HR 12.01pr - Public Records Procedures :
Edmonds College complies with the Public Records Act (42.56 RCW) and all other statutes that govern agency responses to public records requests. The college is committed to maintaining an open and transparent process by which to provide members of the public with access to its records in accordance with state and federal laws.
To ensure compliance, the college follows standard procedures that address receipt of public records requests, response time, internal processes for assembling and reviewing records, application of exemptions to disclosure, the appeal process for denials, notification of affected third parties, and fees for producing records.
Employees of the college are expected to be aware of these procedures and to comply fully when asked by the Public Records Officer to produce documents in response to a public records request. Full compliance means promptly identifying, locating, and providing to the Public Records Officer any and all records that may be responsive to a request.
Public Records Officer
The Vice President for Human Resources and Operations serves as the Public Records Officer for the college. The Vice President may appoint a designee to respond to public records requests and oversee compliance with the Public Records Act (45.56 RCW) and other applicable laws.
Submission of Public Records Requests
All public records requests should be directed to the Public Records Officer. Requesters are encouraged to use the online form provided on the college website. Alternatively, requests may be submitted via mail, email, or fax or delivered in person to the Human Resources Office during normal business hours.
To ensure that the Public Records Officer has adequate information to process a request, it is recommended the request include the following (at a minimum):
- Requester's name
- Requester's contact information (preferably email address or phone number)
- The nature of the request
- Description of the records requested
Procedures for Responding to Public Records Requests
The college will respond promptly to public records requests. Within five business days of receiving a request, the Public Records Officer will acknowledge receipt of the request and take one of the following actions:
- Deliver the responsive records to the requester (withholding or redacting records as required by law).
- Provide a reasonable time estimate for completion of the request.
- Seek clarification of the request if needed to identify the record(s) requested.
- Indicate that the college does not hold the requested records.
- Deny the request and provide an explanation of the denial.
Order of Responses
Requests are generally processed in the order in which they are received. If a request is particularly large or complex and requires a significant amount of time to complete, the Public Records Officer may process other requests concurrently to ensure that those requests are completed in a timely manner.
Assembling and Reviewing Records
Upon receiving a request, the Public Records Officer will contact records holders in other departments to obtain copies of responsive records. It is the responsibility of the department records holders to identify all potentially responsive records (including records in digital and paper formats).
The Public Records Officer will be responsible for making the final determination as to which records are responsive and for applying any necessary exemptions to disclosure specified in the Public Records Act, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), and other applicable statutes. Common exemptions include, but are not limited to, personal contact information (mailing addresses, phone numbers, email addresses) for students and employees, student academic records, and all applications for employment at the college.
Requests for Lists of Individuals
As a state agency, the college is prohibited from providing any list of individuals for commercial purposes. If a request is for such a list of individuals, the college reserves the right to require a signed affidavit from the requester stating that the request is not for commercial purposes.
Notification of Affected Third Parties
If the requested record is not exempt from disclosure and contains information which could identify an individual or agency, the district may notify that individual or agency that release of the record has been requested. In such cases the college's estimate of the time required to complete the request will include a reasonable timeframe for the identified individual or agency to seek court protection from release of the record.
Requests requiring the review and production of large volumes of records may be completed in installments. The Public Records Officer will come to an agreement with the requester regarding the timeline for delivery of installments and the final estimated time to completion of the request.
After all available responsive records have been identified and reviewed by the Public Records Officer, the college will complete its response to the request in one of the following ways:
- Delivery of all responsive records to the requester (no exemptions apply).
- Delivery of responsive records to the requester with records withheld or redacted in accordance with the Public Records Act. In such case, the response will include an exemption log providing detailed information about the records that were withheld or redacted and the legal basis for the decision to withhold or redact the record(s).
- Denial of the request. Such a denial will be accompanied by an explanation of the legal basis for the denial.
- Notification to the requester that no responsive records exist.
Administrative Review of Denials
Any person who objects to the denial of a request for a public record may petition for prompt review of the decision by tendering a written request for review within ten business days of receiving the denial. The request for review should be forwarded to the Public Records Officer and should specifically refer to the explanation of the legal basis for denial.
Upon receipt of a written request for review, the Public Records Officer will refer it to the President of the college. The President or designee will consider the matter and either affirm, amend, or reverse the denial or consult with the attorney general to review the denial. In any case, the request for review will be returned with a final decision within five business days following receipt of the request by the college.
There is no charge for the inspection of public records. The college will impose a fee to cover the cost of providing copies of records when the cost to the college exceeds $50.00. The college has adopted the fee schedule established in 42.56.120 RCW, which is as follows:
- Fifteen cents per page for photocopies of public records, printed copies of electronic public records when requested by the person requesting records, or for the use of agency equipment to photocopy public records;
- Ten cents per page for public records scanned into an electronic format or for the use of agency equipment to scan the records;
- Five cents per each four electronic files or attachments uploaded to email, cloud-based data storage service, or other means of electronic delivery;
- Ten cents per gigabyte for the transmission of public records in an electronic format or for the use of agency equipment to send the records electronically. The agency shall take reasonable steps to provide the records in the most efficient manner available to the agency in its normal operations; and
- The actual cost of any digital storage media or device provided by the agency, the actual cost of any container or envelope used to mail the copies to the requester, and the actual postage or delivery charge.
These charges represent the amount necessary to reimburse the college for its actual costs related to copying and/or electronic document preparation. Additionally, the college may impose a customized service charge to cover its costs if the request requires the use of information technology expertise to prepare data compilations.
The district may require a ten percent deposit in advance if the fee for producing copies of responsive records will exceed $100.00. All fees must be paid by debit or credit card, money order, cashier's check or cash. The charges above may be combined to the extent that more than one type of charge applies to a particular request. Payments are processed at the Cashier's Office in person, by mail, or by phone.
Upon request, the district will provide a summary of the applicable charges before any copies are made or digital records produced and the requester may revise the request to reduce the number of copies or digital records to be provided and reduce the applicable charges. If the requester fails to pay fees for copying by the specified payment date, the request will be closed. The requester will receive ten days' notice prior to the closure of the request.
Public Records Officer
Public Records Request
RELATED POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
HR 12.0 Public Records Policy
RCW 42.56 Public Records Act
RCW 42.56.10 Charges for Copying
CONTENT OWNER. The primary responsibility for this policy belongs to:
Vice President for Human Resources and Operations
PRIMARY CONTENT CONTRIBUTOR (Director/Dean)
Vice President for Human Resources and Operations
2021-Oct 20 Amended to update content owner and contributor
2018-Oct 29 Approved by President's Cabinet
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