Public Records Request
Under Chapter 119, Florida Statutes, the public (media, community members) is given access to government records. It is important to the School District of Lee County that our stakeholders understand their rights to obtain public records.
According to F.S.119 a public record is defined as the following:
"Public Records" include all documents, papers, letter, map, books, tapes, photographs, films, sound recordings, data processing software, or other material regardless of the physical form, characteristics, or means of transmission, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business by any agency.
You may also review the statute in its entirety here: Chapter 119, Florida Statute. To view exemptions to the statute set by the Florida Legislature you may follow these links: F.S. 119.07 & F.S. 119.071
Requests for Public Records do not need to be in writing, nor do they need to be made in person. According to FS119.07(b):
"If the nature or volume of public records requested to be inspected, examined, or copied pursuant to this subsection is such as to require extensive use of information technology resources or extensive clerical or supervisory assistance by personnel of the agency involved, or both, the agency may charge, in addition to the actual cost of duplication, a special service charge, which shall be reasonable and shall be based on the cost incurred for such extensive use of information technology resources or the labor cost of the personnel providing the service that is actually incurred by the agency or attributable to the agency for the clerical and supervisory assistance required, or both."
To provide the record(s) in question, there may be a cost involved. Per Florida Statutes and School Board policy, the cost is $.15 per page, one-sided; $.20 per page, two-sided for hard copies of reports or other documents. While that may sound like a small amount to charge, some reports can be hundreds of pages long, which will, of course, will result in a substantial charge.
In addition, if the time required to produce the Public Records will take longer than fifteen (15) minutes, the District charges for the staff time to do the work (the hourly rate of the person[s] doing the work.) Also, if the documents are to be reviewed, the review must be done under the supervision of District staff. If the total amount of time to review the documents takes longer than fifteen (15) minutes, again, per Florida Statutes, the cost will be the hourly rate of the staff member supervising the review. Again, depending on the type of request made, this charge can be substantial.
One thing to remember about a public record is that it has to exist in order to be provided. That may sound simple, but many times individuals request information they think the District maintains, when in fact, we don’t. This can lead to the misconception that we are not providing information, which is not the case at all – we must have it in order to provide it. Any information we have will be made available and you have the right to inspect it – and have copies made if you so choose.
Lee County Public Schools has never, nor will the District ever, refuse to provide information that is public.
"Under Florida law, E-mail addresses are public record. If you do not want your E-mail address released in response to a public records request, do not send electronic mail to this entity. Instead, contact this office by phone or in writing." - Senate Bill 80, Electronic Mail