Administrative Rules


Subject: Requests for Information AR# 3.03.013
Based on Board Policy: C-3, Duties and Responsibilities, College President
Recommended by Council/President: Administrative Services Council
Date Approved/Amended: 1/1/76, amended 4/17/78, 10/11/98; 7/21/99; 4/30/00

Austin Community College will comply with the Texas Open Records Act, Government Code, Chapter 552, as amended.  Under this act, information maintained in any form or media by a governmental body is considered a public record.  “Media” may include paper, film, magnetic data stored on a computer, tape, Mylar, microfiche, microfilm, sound recordings, maps, drawings, video, etc. 

As defined by Chapter 552, “public information” includes completed reports, investigations, audits, information related to the receipt or expenditure of public or other funds, the name of each official and final record of voting, administrative staff manuals, or instructions to staff.  Public information does not include educational records, except names and addresses if listed in a student directory; curriculum objectives and test items; names of applicants for position of chief executive officer of an institution of higher education (except that the institution must give public notice of the names of finalists 21 days before the date of the meeting at which final action or vote is to be taken); names of persons who requested, obtained or used library materials or service; litigation or settlement documents and other attorney/client privileged information; information related to competition or bidding (until such time as a bid is let and a vendor chosen, at which time the information is public, unless deemed proprietary in nature); information related to location or price of property, trade secrets, commercial or financial information; and interagency memoranda. 

Public Requests for Documents 

The President of Austin Community College is designated as the custodian of all records, documents, writings, letters, memoranda, or other written, typed, copied, or developed materials possessed, assembled, or maintained by Austin Community College.  

A.    The President has designated the Marketing and Public Information Executive as the appropriate individual to respond to different public requests for information.  Requests received by other ACC staff or faculty members should be forwarded immediately to the Marketing and Public Information Executive, indicating the date received.  All deadlines, processes, and costs associated with requests for information found elsewhere in this administrative rule apply. 

B.     The Marketing and Public Information Executive will log all requests for public information and forward them to the appropriate administrator for response, unless he/she can answer the request directly.

C.     Requests should be made in writing, except in cases where timeliness requires a more immediate response, i.e., news media requests.  (Facsimile or e-mail requests will be acceptable, assuming they include a date, name of person requesting the information, and subject of the request.)  A “Request for Public Information” form is available for this purpose, with a list of applicable processing fees.  The College has 10 calendar days for the date of receipt of a written request for information to produce the information for inspection, duplication, or both.  If the information is unavailable or cannot be produced in 10 calendar days, the College must so certify to the person making the request in writing, with a date and time when the information will be available.

D.    The Marketing and Public Information Executive shall thereupon make a determination as to whether or not the information requested is public in nature, consulting with other administrators or College Counsel as appropriate.  Texas Open Records law encourages public entities to favor the release of information except under extraordinary circumstances; these exclusions are outlined in Chapter 552.  If the Marketing and Public Information Executive finds the information to be public in nature, he/she shall have it made available to the person requesting the information through one of the following:

        1.    If appropriate, and satisfactory to the person making the request, the information may be made available for review on ACC premises during normal business hours.  The person has 10 calendar days in which to review the information; an additional 10 days extension may be granted upon written request.

        2.    If hard copy is required, the College will reproduce the information for the requesting party; for photocopies of less than 50 pages, charges will be limited to the regular price per copy charged by the College.  For quantities of more than 50 pages, the College may also include the cost of labor and any other expenses incurred in locating, retrieving and/or reproducing the information.  The College may, at its discretion, waive costs associated with a request for information.

        3.    If the Marketing and Public Information Executive finds the information not to be public in nature, he/she will so inform the requesting party, and such information will not be released.

        4.    In cases where the Marketing and Public Information Executive is uncertain of the information’s public nature, he/she and/or other appropriate administrators will work with College Counsel to ask for a ruling on the information's confidentiality from the Texas State Attorney General.  This must be done within 10 calendar days of receipt of the request for information.  Within 15 calendar days of receipt of the request for information, the College must submit a full explanation of why it considers the requested information to be confidential and/or protected by the exclusions found in Chapter 552, Texas Statutes.  The College must also notify the party requesting the information within 10 days that an opinion has been requested from the Attorney General's Office.  If the College is requesting a decision regarding confidentiality of third party information (e.g., a vendor's proprietary information), the College should notify that party within 10 days so that it has the opportunity to submit a separate brief to the Attorney General's Office outlining why it feels the information should be protected.  The Attorney General's Office has 45 days from the date it receives the College's request for a ruling to render its decision.

 


President:   Richard W. Fonté Date:   4/30/00