The purpose of the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), a State law, is to ensure that citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia and representatives of the media have “ready access to records in the custody of public officials and free entry to meetings of public bodies wherein the business of the people is being transacted.”
This means that most meetings and official records are subject to public disclosure except for:
- Scholastic records and personnel records containing information concerning identifiable individuals.
- Writings protected by the attorney-client privilege or the attorney work product doctrine.
- Tests and examinations (subject to certain qualifications).
- Vendor proprietary information software.
- Information concerning certain contractual or land-related negotiations.
- Information about building security or security-related systems.
There are many exceptions listed in the State Code.
How to Make a Request
All requests for records should be sent via email to email@example.com or sent/referred to the Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Relations, or the designee who serves as the APS Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Officer, for appropriate handling.
Requests will initially be responded to within five (5) working days, so please forward immediately. The law authorizes the APS to charge the costs of total personnel time needed for searching, accessing, supplying and copying any records produced.
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act covers only public records (in any form) which exist. This includes, but is not limited to records that exist in computerized form, video recordings or audio recordings. However, the Virginia Freedom of Information Act does not require APS to create a new record, nor does it require APS to provide information or answer questions that is not provided in an existing record.
APS has five (5) working days to provide an initial response to a request. That response may or may not contain the records requested. The initial response must state either:
- That the requested records will be provided to the requestor;
- That the requested records will not be provided, and the legal basis that permits withholding the records;
- That some records will be provided and some will not be provided, together with the legal basis that permits withholding those records; or
- That it is not practically possible to provide the requested records or to determine whether they are available within the five-work-day period, and the conditions that make such actions impossible.
The final response, however, should be made no more than seven (7) additional working days after the deadline for the initial response.
Charges for FOIA Requests
The Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Relations or designee will provide a cost estimate to the requestor for all requests.
- When the cost of the personnel time to gather and process the requested records is estimated to exceed $30, the Assistant Superintendent or designee will notify the requestor in advance and inquire whether she/he wants to proceed with the request. Requests that carry estimated costs of more than $200 must be paid in advance before further processing of the request will be undertaken.
- When there is a cost for personnel time to gather and process the requested information, the Assistant Superintendent or designee will notify the requestor that the information has been compiled and can be picked up when the person delivers a check to cover the costs. If a check is mailed to the office, the records will be mailed to the requestor once the check has been received.
- Charges are based upon the following rates (subject to change):
- Personnel Time will be charged at the responding personnel member’s hourly rate
- Photocopying charges are $.12 per page (B & W, one-sided, 8.5×11)
- Other expenses (e.g., copying of maps, blueprints, specialized review, mailing costs if requested) may be charged when appropriate, and will be charged at the actual cost.
- All checks are to be made payable to “Arlington Public Schools.” The Assistant Superintendent for School and Community Relations or designee will forward all payments to the Assistant Superintendent, Finance and Management Services, for processing and deposit.