WSR 16-09-055
[Filed April 15, 2016, 2:05 p.m.]
Original Notice.
Proposal is exempt under RCW 34.05.310(4) or 34.05.330(1).
Title of Rule and Other Identifying Information: Chapter 72-276 WAC, Public records.
Hearing Location(s): Washington State School for the Blind (WSSB), 2214 East 13th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661, on June 1, 2016, at 1:00 p.m.
Date of Intended Adoption: June 1, 2016.
Submit Written Comments to: Dean Stenehjem, 2214 East 13th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661, e-mail, fax (360) 737-2120, by May 25, 2016.
Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Janet Kurz by May 25, 2016, (360) 947-3302 or (360) 696-6321.
Purpose of the Proposal and Its Anticipated Effects, Including Any Changes in Existing Rules: Proposed rules adopt best practices in the attorney general's model rules to clarify and streamline procedures for making and processing public records requests, to publish a list of potential other statute exemptions, to clarify procedures for reviewing denials of requests and to update statutory cites resulting from recodification of the Public Records Act in chapter 42.56 RCW.
Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 72.40.022.
Statute Being Implemented: RCW 42.56.100.
Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.
Name of Proponent: WSSB, governmental.
Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting: Bonnie Terada, 1220 Main Street, Suite 510, Vancouver, WA 98660, (360) 759-2100; Implementation and Enforcement: Dean Stenehjem, 2214 East 13th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661, (360) 947-3301.
No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. No impact on small business.
A cost-benefit analysis is not required under RCW 34.05.328. WSSB is not subject to RCW 34.05.328 (5)(a)(i).
April 15, 2016
Dean O. Stenehjem
AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 90-16-009, filed 7/19/90, effective 8/19/90)
WAC 72-276-010 Purpose.
The purpose of the rules in this chapter is to ((ensure that the school complies with the public records provisions of RCW 42.17.250 through 42.17.340)) establish the procedures Washington state school for the blind (school) will follow in order to provide full access to nonexempt public records. These rules provide information to persons requesting access to public records of the school and establish processes for both requestors and school staff that are designed to best assist members of the public in obtaining access.
AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 90-16-009, filed 7/19/90, effective 8/19/90)
WAC 72-276-030 ((Description of central organization of Washington state school for the blind.)) Agency descriptionPublic records officerPublic records.
(1) Washington state school for the blind is a state agency and school established and organized under the authority of chapter 72.40 RCW ((for the purpose of implementing the educational goals established by the legislature in RCW 72.40.010)). The administrative office of the school is located ((in)) at 2214 East 13th Street, Vancouver, Washington. ((The Vancouver campus comprises the central headquarters for all operations of the school.))
(2) The school operates under the supervision and control of the superintendent of the state school for the blind, appointed by the governor. The superintendent takes such actions and promulgates such rules, regulations, and policies in harmony with the rules and regulations established by the office of superintendent of public instruction and the United States Department of Education, as are necessary to the administration and operation of the school.
(3) A board of trustees serves as an advisory board to the superintendent and to the legislature. The board consists of a member from each of the states' congressional districts and ex officio members representing specific interests and constituents of the school. The responsibilities and functions of the board are provided in chapter 72.41 RCW.
(4) The on-campus school is ((comprised of three components. The education component is under the direction of the school principal. The residential life component is under the supervision of the director of residential life. The support services component is provided by consolidated services under an interagency agreement between the Washington state school for the blind and the Washington state school for the deaf. Medical services and outreach programs are under the direction of the superintendent. A detailed description of the administrative organization of the school)) under the direction of the director of education/on-campus programs. Additional departments include outreach, instructional resource/braille production center, early intervention and outreach. An organizational chart is available at the administrative office of the school.
AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 90-16-009, filed 7/19/90, effective 8/19/90)
WAC 72-276-050 Public records available.
((All public records of the school, as defined in this chapter, are deemed to be available for public inspection and copying pursuant to these rules, except as otherwise provided by RCW 42.17.310.)) (1) Hours for inspection of records. Public records are available for inspection and copying during normal business hours of the school, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to noon and 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding legal holidays and holidays established by the school calendar. Records must be inspected at the offices of the school.
(2) Records index. An index of public records is available for use by members of the public consisting of the records retention schedule according to record series title, manuals and policy statements by one or more of the following classifications: Administration, statewide (outreach) services, academic and residential life.
(3) Organization of records. The school will maintain its records in a reasonably organized manner. The school will take reasonable actions to protect records from damage and disorganization. A requestor shall not take records from school offices without the permission of the public records officer or designee.
(4) Making a request for public records.
(a) Any person wishing to inspect or copy public records of the school should make the request in writing on the school's public records request form, or by letter, fax, or e-mail addressed to the public records officer and including the following information:
• Name of requestor;
• Address of requestor;
• Other contact information, including telephone number and any e-mail address;
• Identification of the public records adequate for the public records officer or designee to locate the records;
• The date and time of day of the request; and
• A verification that the records requested shall not be used for commercial purposes.
(b) If the requestor wishes to have copies of the records made instead of simply inspecting them, he or she should so indicate and make arrangements to pay for copies of the records or a deposit. Pursuant to WAC 72-276-090, standard photocopies will be provided at fifteen cents per page.
(c) A form is available for use by requestors at the office of the public records officer or online at the school's web site.
(d) The public records officer or designee may accept requests for public records that contain the above information by telephone or in person. If the public records officer or designee accepts such a request, he or she will confirm receipt of the information and the substance of the request in writing.
WAC 72-276-055 Processing of public records requests.
(1) Order of processing public records requests. The public records officer or designee will process requests in the order that allows the most requests to be processed in the most efficient manner.
(2) Acknowledging receipt of request. Within five business days of receipt of the request, the public records officer will do one or more of the following:
(a) Make the records available for inspection or copying;
(b) If copies are requested and payment of a deposit for the copies, if any, is made or terms of payment are agreed upon, send the copies to the requestor;
(c) Provide a reasonable estimate of when records will be available;
(d) If the request is unclear or does not sufficiently identify the requested records, request clarification from the requestor. Such clarification may be requested and provided by telephone. The public records officer or designee may revise the estimate of when records will be available; or
(e) Deny the request.
(3) If no response is received. If the school does not respond in writing within five business days of receipt of the request for disclosure, the requestor should consider contacting the public records officer to ensure that the school received the request.
(4) Protecting rights of others. In the event that the requested records contain information that may affect rights of others and may be exempt from disclosure, the public records officer may, prior to providing the records, give notice to such others whose rights may be affected by the disclosure. Such notice should be given so as to make it possible for the affected persons to seek an order from a court to prevent or limit the disclosure. The notice to the affected persons will include a copy of the request.
(5) Records exempt from disclosure. Some records are exempt from disclosure, in whole or in part. If the school believes that a record is exempt from disclosure and should be withheld, the public records officer will state the specific exemption and provide a brief explanation of why the record or a portion of the record is being withheld. If only a portion of a record is exempt from disclosure, but the remainder is not exempt, the public records officer will redact the exempt portions, provide the nonexempt portions, and indicate to the requestor why portions of the record are being redacted.
(6) Inspection of records.
(a) Consistent with other demands, the school shall promptly provide space to inspect public records. No member of the public may remove a document from the viewing area or disassemble or alter any document. The requestor shall indicate which documents he or she wishes the school to copy.
(b) The requestor must claim or review the assembled records within thirty days of the school's notification to him or her that the records are available for inspection or copying. The school will notify the requestor in writing of this requirement and inform the requestor that he or she should contact the school to make arrangements to claim or review the records. If the requestor or a representative of the requestor fails to claim or review the records within the thirty-day period or make other arrangements, the school may close the request and refile the assembled records. Other public records requests can be processed ahead of a subsequent request by the same person for the same or almost identical records, which can be processed as a new request.
(7) Providing copies of records. After inspection is complete, the public records officer or designee shall make the requested copies or arrange for copying.
(8) Electronic records. The process for requesting electronic public records is the same as for requesting paper public records. When a person requests records in an electronic format, the public records officer will provide the nonexempt records or portions of such records that are reasonably locatable in an electronic format that is used by the school and is generally commercially available, or in a format that is reasonably translatable from the format in which the school keeps the record.
(9) Providing records in installments. When the request is for a large number of records, the public records officer or designee will provide access for inspection and copying in installments, if he or she reasonably determines that it would be practical to provide the records in that way. If, within thirty days, the requestor fails to inspect the entire set of records or one or more of the installments, the public records officer or designee may stop searching for the remaining records and close the request.
(10) Completion of inspection. When the inspection of the requested records is complete and all requested copies are provided, the public records officer or designee will indicate that the school has completed a diligent search for the requested records and made any located nonexempt records available for inspection. Then the public records officer will close the request.
(11) Closing withdrawn or abandoned request. When the requestor either withdraws the request or fails to fulfill his or her obligations to inspect the records or pay the deposit or final payment for the requested copies, the public records officer will close the request and indicate to the requestor that the school has closed the request.
(12) Later discovered documents. If, after the school has informed the requestor that it has provided all available records, the school becomes aware of additional responsive documents existing at the time of the request, it will promptly inform the requestor of the additional documents and provide them on an expedited basis.
AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 90-16-009, filed 7/19/90, effective 8/19/90)
WAC 72-276-090 ((Copying.)) Costs of providing copies of public records.
((No fee shall be charged for the inspection of public records. The school may impose a reasonable charge for providing copies of public records and for the use by any person of agency equipment to copy public records; such charges shall not exceed the amount necessary to reimburse the school for its actual costs incident to such copying. No person shall be released a record so copied until and unless the person requesting the copied public record had tendered payment for such copying to the appropriate school official. All charges must be paid by money order, cashier's check, or cash in advance.)) (1) Costs for paper copies. There is no fee for inspecting public records. A requestor may obtain standard black and white photocopies for fifteen cents per page and color copies for twenty-five cents per page.
Before beginning to make the copies, the public records officer or designee may require a deposit of up to ten percent of the estimated costs of copying all the records selected by the requestor. The public records officer or designee may also require the payment of the remainder of the copying costs before providing all the records, or the payment of the costs of copying an installment before providing that installment. The school will not charge sales tax when it makes copies of public records.
(2) Costs for electronic records. The cost of electronic copies of records shall be five dollars for information on a CD-ROM. The cost of scanning existing school paper or other nonelectronic records is ten cents per page. There will be no charge for e-mailing electronic records to a requestor, unless another cost applies such as a scanning fee.
(3) Costs of mailing. The school may also charge actual costs of mailing, including the cost of the shipping container.
(4) Payment. Payment may be made by cash, check, or money order to the Washington state school for the blind.
AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 90-16-009, filed 7/19/90, effective 8/19/90)
WAC 72-276-100 ((Determination regarding exempt records.)) Exemptions.
(((1) The school reserves the right to determine that a public record requested in accordance with the procedures outlined in WAC 72-276-080 is exempt pursuant to the provisions set forth in RCW 42.17.310 and 42.17.315. Such determination may be made in consultation with the public records officer, the school superintendent, or an assistant attorney general assigned to the school.
(2) Pursuant to RCW 42.17.260, the school reserves the right to delete identifying details when it makes available or publishes any public record when there is reason to believe that disclosure of such details would be an unreasonable invasion of personal privacy; provided, however, in each case, the justification for deletion shall be explained fully in writing.
(3) Response to requests for a public record must be made promptly. For the purposes of this section, a prompt response occurs if the person requesting the public record is notified within two business days as to whether his request for a public record will be honored.
(4) All denials of request for public records must be accompanied by a written statement, signed by the public records officer or his/her designee, specifying the reason for the denial, a statement of the specific exemption authorizing the withholding of the record, and a brief explanation of how the exemption applies to the public record withheld.)) (1) The Public Records Act provides that a number of types of documents are exempt from public inspection and copying. In addition, documents are exempt from disclosure if any "other statute" exempts or prohibits disclosure. Requestors should be aware of the following exemptions, outside the Public Records Act, that restrict the availability of some documents held by the school for inspection and copying:
(a) The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. Sec. 1232g;
(b) RCW 5.60.060(2), records subject to the attorney-client privilege; and
(c) RCW 42.56.290, attorney work-product involving a controversy.
(2) The school is prohibited by statute from disclosing lists of individuals for commercial purposes.
AMENDATORY SECTION (Amending WSR 90-16-009, filed 7/19/90, effective 8/19/90)
WAC 72-276-110 Review of denials of public records requests.
(1) Petition for internal administrative review of denial of access. Any person who objects to the initial denial or partial denial of a request for a public record may petition in writing (including e-mail) to the public records officer for prompt review of ((such decision by tendering a written request for review. The written request shall specifically refer to the written statement which constituted or accompanied the denial.
(2) The written request by a person demanding prompt review of a decision denying a public record shall be submitted to the superintendent, or his or her designee.
(3) Within two business days after receiving the written request by a person petitioning for a prompt review of a decision denying public record, the superintendent, or his or her designee, shall complete such review.
(4) During the course of the review, the superintendent or his or her designee, shall consider the obligations of the school fully to comply with the intent of chapter 42.17 RCW insofar as it requires providing full public access to official records, but shall also consider both the exemptions provided in RCW 42.17.310 through 42.17.315, and the provisions of the statute which require the school to protect public records from damage or disorganization, prevent excessive interference with essential functions of the agency, and prevent any unreasonable invasion of personal privacy by deleting identifying details)) that decision. The petition shall include a copy of or reasonably identify the written statement by the public records officer or designee denying the request.
(2) Consideration of petition for review. The public records officer shall promptly provide the petition and any other relevant information to the public records officer's supervisor for review. That person will immediately consider the petition and either affirm or reverse the denial within two business days following the school's receipt of the petition, or within such other time as mutually agreed upon by the school and the requestor.
(3) Review by the attorney general's office. Pursuant to RCW 42.56.530, if the school denies a requestor access to public records because it claims the record is exempt in whole or in part from disclosure, the requestor may request the attorney general's office to review the matter. The attorney general has adopted rules on such requests in WAC 44-06-160.
(4) Judicial review. Any person may obtain court review of denials of public records requests pursuant to RCW 42.56.550 at the conclusion of two business days after the initial denial regardless of any internal administrative appeal.
The following sections of the Washington Administrative Code are repealed:
WAC 72-276-020
WAC 72-276-040
Operations and procedures.
WAC 72-276-060
Public records officer.
WAC 72-276-070
Office hours.
WAC 72-276-080
Requests for public records.
WAC 72-276-120
Protection of public records.
WAC 72-276-130
Records index.
WAC 72-276-140
Adoption of form.