Public Records Requests

The primary purpose of the Public Records Act is to give the public an opportunity to monitor the functioning of their government. In enacting the CPRA, the California Legislature stated that access to information concerning the conduct of the public’s business is a fundamental and necessary right for every person in the State.

Before submitting a request, please check our website for these frequently requested documents:

Requests should be submitted to the Public Records Request Officer.

Through the PRA process, San Diego Unified School District maintains its commitment to transparency and openness. District policy is outlined in Administrative Regulation and Board Policy 1340

Anyone can submit a Public Records request and there is no specific form that must be used to make a request. A request can be made orally or in writing, but written requests are strongly encouraged (preferable via email) to help reduce confusion about the records requested.

Requests should be submitted to the Public Records Request Officer. To assist patrons in submitting a Public Records request, this sample letter may be used.

Public Records requests since 2016 have been posted in the Board Docs Library (Library > Public Records Requests) and will continue to be posted as requests are answered.

Please refer to the FAQ below to learn additional details about the Public Records request process.

 

District Public Records Page FAQ

The California State Legislature adopted the Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250, et. Seq.) in 1975.  It is designed to give the public access to information in the possession of public agencies and to give the public an opportunity to monitor the functioning of their government.  In enacting the CPRA, the California Legislature stated that access to information concerning the conduct of the public’s business is a fundamental and necessary right for every person in the State.

 

GENERAL

Q: What are public records?

A: "Public records" include any writing containing information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used or retained by the agency regardless of physical form or characteristics."  Writing" means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photocopying, photographing, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing, any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds or symbols or any combination thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored (Government Code 6252).

Items such as drafts, notes, or preliminary documents are generally not considered records.

 

Q: Who can submit a PRA request?

A: Any person may submit a PRA request.

 

Q: What are the District's guidelines for PRA requests?

A: The District's policy and procedures for PRA Requests are outlined in Administrative Regulation 1340 and Board Policy 1340.

 

Q: How do I make a records request?

A: There is no specific form that must be used to make a request.  A request can be made orally or in writing, but written requests are strongly encouraged (preferable via e-mail) to help reduce confusion about the records requested.  Requests should be submitted to the Public Records Request Officer.

Please provide a detailed description of the records you seek.  When a record cannot be identified by name, the requestor should attempt to be as specific as possible in describing the record, based on its content, including the designation of any forms or reports with titles, the date or dates of the document, the author and addresses, if the item is a letter or memo, etc.  If known, requesters should indicate the office, school site, or the department that created and maintains the records.  If the record is referred to in another document or published report and it will help to attach a copy of that reference, do so.  For your convenience, here is a sample Public Records Act request form. 

Please visit: Guidelines for Access to Public Records

 

Q: Can I drop in to inspect the records that I want?

A: The volume of requests received by the District does not permit instant response to records requests. There is no service for on-demand, same day public records inspections; nor does the law require such a service.  Identification and collection of potentially responsive records are only some of the steps involved in responding to requests.  The collected records must be reviewed to ensure that they are in fact responsive to the request and to assess whether they are subject to redaction to protect the privacy rights of others and consistent with applicable legal privileges and exemptions.  Each of the steps in the process takes time.  When records requests are available for release, we will contact you to set up an appointment for review.

 

Q: Is the District required to create records that do not exist in order to comply with a public request?

A: No.  In response to a public request, we are only responsible for providing existing documents and records that are maintained by the District.

 

Q: I think the District should create a report that will have the information that I want.  Can I request this under the Public Records Act?

A: The District releases non-exempt, existing records in response to requests.  The Public Records Act does not require that the District answer questions or create new records.  Requests for information should be directed to the District’s Communications Department.

 

Q: What records are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Act?

A: Records exempt from a PRA are commonly made exempt by state law. Examples include preliminary drafts and notes, pending litigation, student records, an employee's personnel and medical files, and minutes of a board meeting held in closed session.  (See AR 1340 or the Public Records Act for a more complete list of exempt records.)

 

Q: What is the difference between a Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and a California Public Records Act (PRA) request?

A: FOIA governs federal agencies and generally does not apply to the District, but the PRA is modeled on FOIA.  If someone makes a request to the District under FOIA, it is treated as a request under the PRA.

 

Q: What is the timeframe for the District's response to a PRA request? 

A: The District has 10 days to “determine whether the request…seeks copies of disclosable public records in the possession of the agency and shall promptly notify the person making the request of the determination and reasons therefore.”  (California Government Code Section 6253(c).)  This means that agencies are supposed to notify the requester within 10 days if they have requested deliverable public records or exempt material or some combination of the two.  The law, however, does not require production within 10 days.  The District may extend period to make this determination for up to 24 days if there is a need to communicate with District office or school sites, examine voluminous records, communicate with others who have an interest in the records, or construct computer reports.  The law requires that production be made in a “reasonable” amount of time, based upon the volume of the records requested and the necessary review process.

 

 

FOR STAFF

Q: What should our department do if we receive a PRA request?

A: Contact the Public Records Request Officer immediately (Jeffrey Day) as records requests must be acknowledged within prescribed legal timelines.

Please visit: Guidelines for Public Records Act Requests Received by Office of Record

 

Q: Should our department allow a member of the public to look through our files if they make a public records request?

A: No.  As a general rule, members of the public should not be allowed to simply look into our files because there may be materials in the files that should not be disclosed.  Suggest the requester submit a request to the PRA Officer for further assistance.

 

Q: Is it legal to discard documents or other evidence when a request is made for the information, or when you think a request is about to be made?

A: No, it is not legal.  While you do have the right to dispose of documents in the ordinary course of business,  if it's consistent with our policies, you do not have the right to dispose of documents after a request is made (even if it would otherwise be consistent with our disposition policies) as it would be in violation of the  California Public Records Act.

  

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