Public Records Request - FAQs
What is a public record?
Per RCW 42.56.010, a public record "includes any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics."
Are student records public records?
Yes, however, some student records are federally protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Are e-mails public records?
Yes, any e-mails to and from school district employees and school board members are within the scope of the PRA. Personal student and family information is redacted per the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
How do I request public records?
Please note: Public records requests are not required for school-to-school records transfers. If your student has moved schools, the schools will communicate to ensure records are transferred.
For all public records requests we ask that you please complete the Public Records Request Form in order to best serve you. Using this form ensures we have all the information necessary to facilitate your request and gather the specific records you are seeking.
To request records from Snohomish School District:
- E-mail your completed form to email@example.com.
- Mail or hand-deliver your completed form to:
Public Records Officer
Resource & Service Center
1601 Avenue D
Snohomish, WA 98290
For further inquiries or assistance, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the cost for records?
Per School Board Policy 4040P, the cost for records is:
- Physical copies: .15 per page
- Electronic copies: .10 per page
- E-mails: .05 per 4 files
- Video: .10 per GB
- Storage device fee (varies depending on size of request)
- Postage fees
- There is no cost to inspect records in person (by appointment)
Payment of fees is due prior to releasing records. Fees may be paid by cash or check made out to Snohomish School District.
How long will it take for the district to fulfill my request?
Snohomish School District is committed to responding to all public records requests in a timely manner in accordance with state law (RCW 42.56.520).
Within five business days following receipt of a public records request (excluding holidays), we will do one or more of the following:
- Make the requested records available for delivery or inspection
- Acknowledge receipt of the request and provide a reasonable estimate of when records will be available
- Seek clarification if the request is unclear or does not adequately identify the records sought
- Deny the request in accordance with state law
Please note that while we make every effort to provide the requested records as quickly as possible, "respond" does not always mean "receive" within five days.
If we do not hear back from you within 30 days regarding a request for clarification or in response to notification that records are available, we will consider your request to be abandoned and close it without further action at that time.
What factors determine how long it will take the district to fulfill my request?
There are many factors that must be considered when determining how long it will take the district to fully respond to a request, including the size and scope of the request, the number of requests already being processed by the district, and staff availability to handle the requests. As our business is about students, some of the information contained in certain records may be protected under federal and state privacy laws. Sometimes these records requests may require additional time to notify third parties affected by the request, to determine whether any of the information requested is exempt from disclosure, and to redact exempt information (RCW 42.56.520).
What is third party notice?
RCW 42.56.520 allows the district time to notify any person that may be affected by the release of a public record. If we believe there are affected third parties, the district will notify the requestor that it requires additional time to complete their request while we provide notification to any affected third parties. This notification provides ample time for an affected third party to review the request. If desired, the third party may exercise their right to seek relief from the courts. A person can prevent the district from releasing public records to a requester by obtaining a superior court order that prohibits the district from allowing the examination or release of the records. This type of court order is called an injunction. A court would have to “find that such examination would clearly not be in the public interest and would substantially and irreparably damage any person.” (RCW 42.56.540).
Are there any records that the district cannot share with the public?
|Student records are protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). There are also public records that are exempt from public disclosure because they contain information that is exempt from public viewing. Some examples include family and staff personal information, banking information, and information that could be used to obtain a driver’s license or other form of identification (date of birth, social security number, home address, personal phone number, etc.). When it comes to public records, a person’s right to privacy is violated if the “disclosure of information about the person: (1) Would be highly offensive to a reasonable person, and (2) is not of legitimate concern to the public.” (RCW 42.56.050).
Are public records requests confidential?
No. Once the district receives a public records request, the request itself becomes a public record of the district. Someone else may make a public records request for that document and we will provide it.
If I’m looking for a specific policy, where can I find it?
All school board policies and procedures can be viewed here.