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New FOIA Procedures and Guidelines

Kacie Kefgen

By Kacie Kefgen, MASB Assistant Director of Labor Relations and Legal Services

DashBoard, May 14, 2015

In last week’s DashBoard, we highlighted the changes to FOIA fees that will be coming in July thanks to Public Act 563 of 2014. This week, we will describe another significant FOIA change—in order for a school district to be eligible to charge fees for public records, it must set new procedures and guidelines for FOIA compliance and communicate those procedures and guidelines in certain ways.

Here are the main requirements for procedures and guidelines school districts should keep in mind:

  • The new procedures and guidelines must comply with PA 563;
  • The district must create a written summary of the adopted procedures and guidelines for the general public that explains:
    • how to submit a written request to the district, and
    • how to understand the district’s written responses to those requests, deposit requirements, fee calculations, and avenues for challenge and appeal.
  • The written summary must be written in a manner that will be easily understood by the general public.
  • If the school has a website, the procedures and guidelines, as well as the summary document, must be posted on the website.
  • Free copies of the procedures, guidelines and summary documents must be provided in a school’s written response to a request unless there is a link to the documents on the school website, and also must be provided if someone visits the district’s office and asks for them.
  • The procedures and guidelines must include a standard form for itemization of any fee amount in the school’s response to written requests.

This is merely a summary of the changes to the FOIA rules coming on July 1. For details, please consult the statute and seek guidance from your retained legal counsel as your district updates its FOIA policies. MASB is also offering a webinar to guide districts in FOIA compliance on Thursday, May 21; register here.

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