The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act, a state law, is to ensure that citizens 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 scrutiny with the exception of:
- 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.
There are many exceptions listed in the State Code. The ones listed above are the most common.
The Freedom of Information Act covers only documents which exist. The Freedom of Information Act does not require Arlington Public Schools to create a document, nor does it require Arlington Public Schools to provide information that is not in any document.
How to Make a Freedom of Information Act Request
The best way to make a request is to write a letter requesting the documents. Individuals making requests should be as specific as possible. Letters should include the name and address of the person requesting the documents along with a daytime telephone number of the requestor.
Requests should be sent to:
Assistant Superintendent of School and Community Relations
Arlington Public Schools
1426 N. Quincy Street
Arlington, Virginia 22207
When the cost of the personnel time to gather and process the requested records is estimated to exceed $30, the Assistant Superintendent 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 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 is 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 $.12 per page (B & W, one-sided, 8.5×11)
- Other personnel or copying expenses (e.g., copying of maps, specialized review) may be charged when appropriate, and will be charged at the actual cost.
The Assistant Superintendent will provide a cost estimate to the requestor when appropriate or if requested. All checks are to be made payable to “Arlington Public Schools.” For more information, contact Linda Erdos, Assistant Superintendent, School and Community Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 703-228-6005.