Public Information Act - Open Records (PIA) Requests Procedures
Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code, also known as the Public Information Act (PIA), gives the public the right to access certain government records, including records that pertain to the operation of Tyler ISD. The PIA also establishes procedures that governmental bodies must follow when responding to open records requests. Our goal is to handle your request accurately and as efficiently as possible. Our PI Officer is available to explain the types of information we have, explain the process, and offer suggestions to assist you in making a successful request.
In compliance with the Texas Public Information Act, if the records cannot be produced within ten (10) business days, the Records Management Officer will notify the requestor in writing of the reasonable date and time when it will be available.
How to Make an Open Records (PIA) Request
The following tips may help you make a successful request:
- Your request must be in writing.
- Include your complete contact information, especially an e-mail address if you have one.
- Describe the documents, records, or data. Note: We ask that your request be specific and include date ranges, if possible. We will work with you to clarify and narrow your request so that we can locate the records you are seeking. Be clear and concise. We are not allowed to ask you why you want the information. However, we may ask you to clarify your request if we are uncertain as to what you want, and we may discuss with you how the scope of your request may be narrowed if your request is broad or for a large amount of information.
- To expedite our response to your request, you may ask us to redact confidential information.
- Your request should be for documents, records, or other data that is already in existence.
- The PIA does not require us to answer questions, perform legal research, or comply with a continuing request to supply information on a periodic basis or information as they are prepared in the future.
- By law, a request is considered to be received during regular business hours (between 8 AM - 5 PM) on a regular business day (not a state or federal holiday, school holiday, closure or skeleton crew day).
- You must send your request to the designated fax and/or e-mail addresses (below) for it to be treated as a proper PIA request. Requests not sent to the designated fax or e-mail may not be responded to. We ask that you address your request to the Public Information Officer. Otherwise, your request will be treated as general correspondence under Public Schools procedures.
How to Submit a PIA Request
By E-mail: E-mail your request to firstname.lastname@example.org
By Fax: 903.262.1179
By Mail or In person: Plyler Instructional Complex, Constituent Services Bldg., 807 W. Glenwood, Tyler, Texas 75701
Are There Charges for Requesting Records?
We use the cost rules established by the OAG for responding to PIA requests.
Extensive data and information are readily accessible from the District website, tylerisd.org, and records can be inspected in person by appointment only. These may be less expensive alternatives.
We will work with you to minimize costs. For example, we may be able to provide records electronically to save copying and labor charges.
What Happens After You Submit a Request?
We respond to requests in the order that they are received.
We are required to promptly release the information that is not confidential or that does not fall within one of the exceptions from disclosure under the PIA.
The PIA allows agencies up to ten (10) business days to respond to your request. The response could be that we release parts or all the records, that we have no records responsive to your request, that clarification is needed, that we have estimated charges, that we believe the records are confidential and have requested the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for a ruling on the records, or that we need additional time to locate, compile, or manipulate the data/records.
Please be aware that records rarely exist in just one place. Several departments or campuses and a number of different employees may need to locate and compile responsive records. Sometimes we must resolve questions about the request before we begin locating the responsive documents. Keep in mind that it may take longer to locate, compile, and redact all records, especially when a request is large in scope.
What Types of Information are Confidential?
Some of our records contain information that may be confidential and excepted from public disclosure. Some types of information that the PIA or the OAG has said are confidential include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Information that may identify a student (unless you have a right of access)
- Social Security Numbers of a living person
- Credit reports, access codes, account numbers
- Personal e-mail addresses of members of the public
- Certain financial or medical information
- Home addresses, phone numbers, and family member information of School employees
- Certain trade secret or proprietary information submitted by companies
Other information that may not be released include, but is not limited to, the following:
- Privileged attorney-client communications
- Information relating to pending or anticipated litigation, audits, and investigations
What Happens if the Information is Confidential, Privileged, or Sensitive?
Certain types of confidential, privileged, or sensitive information may be excepted from public disclosure. If we believe that the information you requested is confidential or falls within one of the PIA's exceptions, we may submit the information to the OAG to get a written decision (ruling) on the records' status. The OAG generally issues its decisions within 45 days of receipt of our request. The OAG will send you the ruling and we will withhold or release the information as directed by the OAG or in some instances, may appeal the OAG’s decision.
Student Identifying Information
In accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), the School is required to withhold from public disclosure personally identifiable information in education records.
Prior to the releasing of public information, we will remove all personally Identifiable Information. Personally identifiable information includes, but is not limited to (Authorities: 20 U.S.C. 1232g; 34 CFR 99.3) —
- The student's name, initials, age, grade;
- The name of the student's parent or other family members;
- The address of the student or student's family;
- Names of school personnel and providers of educational services;
- Personal identifiers, such as the student's social security number, student number, or biometric record;
- Other indirect identifiers, such as the student's date of birth, place of birth, and mother's maiden name;
- Other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or
- Information requested by a person who we reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.
The student or parents of a minor student may consent to release his/her education records and/or other information to a third-party for a defined purpose. Tyler ISD must receive proper authorization and identification of persons with a right to access student information before releasing any information that may identify a student. Any information that may identify a student must be transmitted through secured means, including Secured Encrypted E-mail and/or may be password protected. The eligible student or person authorized may give consent to disclose education records and/or other information to a third-party for a defined purpose.