KingSpry | Government Transparency Right To Know COVID-19

Ensuring Government Transparency Under Right to Know During COVID-19

Posted on April 8th, 2020
by Rebecca A. Young

Government directives to close schools and non-essential businesses, and the current statewide stay-at-home directive limit the ability of public entities to respond to (Right to Know) requests for public records.

Here is a summary of legal obligations during this time.

  1. Agencies should continue to process and respond to Right to Know request to the extent possible.
  2. The agency’s initial response to a request is due within five business days. If the agency is closed due to governmental order, then the five-day response time begins when the agency re-opens. It is suggested that an informal response such as an automated email reply be used to inform requestors that the agency is closed and that a response will be promptly issued upon re-opening. For example: “Schools are currently closed pursuant to the Governor’s directive.  We will respond to your request promptly after schools re-open.”
  3. The agency’s final response to a request received prior to a mandatory closure remains due within 30 calendar days. If it is not feasible to issue the final response during a closure, then it is recommended that a courtesy notice and request for extension of time is sent to the requestor.
  4. The Office of Open Records has suspended appeal deadlines indefinitely for matters in which any party is unable to meaningfully participate in the process.

Bottom Line

Agencies should consult with their solicitor to address specific situations as they arise.

School Law Bullets are a publication of KingSpry’s Education Law Practice Group. This article is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.