The Wilkes County Board of Education is committed to providing access to public records and public information. All employees will comply with the public records law and this policy.
A. REQUESTS FOR PUBLIC RECORDS
All requests for examining or obtaining copies of public records should be in writing or recorded by school district personnel. Any denial of a public records request will be made in writing with the basis for the denial. Information will be made available to the requester concerning the cost of producing records and how to appeal a denial of a public records request. The superintendent or designee may issue additional guidelines consistent with this policy to further clarify the process for requesting public records.
The records of the Board of Education are defined as public records by G.S. 132-1; these include minutes, written policy, teacher contracts, payroll records, and all correspondence concerning public business. Any person has the right to examine and make copies of these records, provided that the examination is made at a reasonable time and does not interfere with office routine.
B. DESIGNATION OF RECORDS OFFICER
The superintendent or his designee will ensure the following:
• determining whether records are public or confidential by law, with assistance from the local Board of Education attorney, as necessary;
• determining the most cost-effective means of storing and retrieving public records that are related to confidential information;
• providing training, consultation and guidelines to school officials who respond to or are otherwise involved in public records requests;
• determining the actual cost of providing copies of public records in the various forms, such as paper or diskette, in which the school district is capable of providing the records;
• determining the cost of a request for copies of public records when a special service charge is applicable or when the school district is voluntarily creating or compiling a record as a service to the requester; and
• reviewing appeals of any denial of a request for public records.
Other duties to be performed by the records officer, a designated electronic records officer, or by other employees as determined by the superintendent, include the following:
• reviewing all electronic data-processing systems being considered for lease or purchase to ensure that it will not impede the school district’s ability to permit public inspection and examination of records;
• ensuring that databases are indexed as required by law; and
• conducting an inventory of electronic databases maintained by the school district on a regular basis.
C. INDEXING OF COMPUTER DATABASES
All computer databases compiled or created after June 30, 1998, will be indexed as required by law. The form and content of the indexes will conform to the guidelines issued by the North Carolina Division of Archives and History.
Any computer database being considered for purchase or lease by the school district that will be subject to the indexing requirements should include the statutorily required index provided by the vendor at no additional cost to the school district.
In addition, the school district will voluntarily index databases created or compiled prior to July 1, 1998, so long as the process is not unreasonably burdensome or costly. Any voluntary indexing does not have to meet statutory requirements or the guidelines issued by the North Carolina Division of Archives and History.
D. FEES FOR COPIES OF PUBLIC RECORDS
The superintendent or designee is to determine the actual cost of providing copies of public records in the various forms in which the school district is capable of providing them. (See subsection above or Designation of Records Officer.)
A fee may be charged for copies made, but it should accurately reflect the actual cost of copy materials; no charge may be made for the examination itself or for handwritten copies made by the examiner. A person examining the records may use his or her own staff to make copies, as long as this does not unduly interfere with the equal rights of others to inspect.
This policy, administrative guidelines, information on the actual cost for producing public records, information on how to reach the records officer and any computer database indexes should be made available to employees and individuals requesting public records.
Legal References: Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. 1232g; G.S. 115C-114, -319 to -321, -402; 132-1 to -9; Public Database Indexing Guidelines and Recommendations, N.C. Division of Archives and History; N.C. Attorney General Advisory Opinion, letter to Elizabeth Buford, February 26, 1996.
Cross References: News Media Relations (policy 5040)
Adopted: January 9, 2006