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Public Records Act Overview by Lozano Smith

The Association of California School Administrators is the largest umbrella organization for school leaders in the United States, serving more than 17,000 California educators.

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Page 0 of 1 Public Records Act WHAT ARE PUBLIC RECORDS? The term "public records" includes any writing relating to the public's business if it is prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency. This definition is purposefully broad to protect the public's interest in remaining informed regarding the actions of government. WHAT'S A RECORD? Includes: > Photocopies > Handwritten notes > Letters > Reports > Digital storage > Electronic mail > Facsimiles > Other recorded items EMAIL AND ELECTRONIC MESSAGES Email contained on agency's computers constitute "public records" if they relate to conduct of public business. These communications are generally subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act unless they fall under an exemption. Communications in all forms (e.g. texts, tweets, emails, etc.) about District business on private accounts or devices may also be subject to disclosure under the Public Records Act, depending on the content and context of the communications. School districts may wish to consider adopting policies and implementing best practices around electronic communications by Board members as well as District employees, including use of District provided email addresses, segregating personal communications, and how and whether emails, texts and other electronic communications addressing District business should be stored and maintained. EXEMPT RECORDS (Partial List) > Preliminary drafts and notes not ordinarily retained in the normal course of business, subject to the balanc- ing test for the "catch-all" exemption discussed below > Documents prepared for pending litigation > Certain personnel and medical files (but not all personnel records are exempt) > Certain information from police reports > Test questions, scoring keys, and other exam data > Records prohibited from disclosure by California or federal law, including attorney-client privileged commu- nications and student records > Employee home addresses and telephone numbers "CATCH-ALL" EXEMPTION Documents may be withheld if the district determines that on the facts of the particular case the public inter- est served by not disclosing the record clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the record. WHO MAY REQUEST A PUBLIC RECORD? Any "person," including non-citizens, corporations, partnerships and other businesses, firms and associations. Requests for records must be reasonable and describe an identifiable record. DEALING WITH UNCLEAR REQUESTS Districts must "assist" the person making the request so that the request is focused, effective, and reasonably describes an identifiable record or records. This includes assisting the member of the public to identify records 1 PUBLIC RECORDS ACT

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