FOIL AO 196512

From:         Freeman, Robert J (DOS)
Sent:          Friday, March 09, 2018 10:45 AM


I have received your correspondence and contacted the Poughkeepsie City School District to discuss the matter. The District Clerk and Records Access Officer, Victoria Jackson, indicated that your request had not been received. She in fact conducted a search on her computer, and there was no match to either your email address or your name.

Having reviewed your request, I offer the following observations.

First, some elements of the request likely pertain to records, i.e., minutes of meetings or audit reports, that can be found and retrieved with relative ease. Others, however, are, in my view, somewhat unclear or voluminous.  The portion of the request involving payroll records, for example, is vague, for there are numerous elements of information contained in records of that nature, some of which may be available under FOIL, while others may be withheld

Second, certain of the requests, those involving email correspondence to or from the Board of Education or several District officials, covering a period of more than half a year likely would include thousands of communications. To respond properly, those thousands of communications must be read and, in some instances, redacted to comply with law. As you may be aware, there is a federal law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), that prohibits an educational institution from disclosing information identifiable to students, which would include a parent’s name or address, unless a parent authorizes disclosure. Other email may consist of internal governmental communications, referenced in FOIL as “inter‐agency or intra‐agency materials”, portions of which are public, while others may be withheld. If elements of a record can be withheld, often an agency must redact from a printed record that is photocopied, and in that circumstance, it has been found by courts that the agency may charge up to twenty‐five cents per photocopy. Again, in consideration of the volume of the request, the task might involve months of effort and a fee of hundreds of dollars.

It is suggested that you resubmit the request and focus on records of primary interest. My question upon seeing requests analogous to yours is simple: what do you really want? If that can be established, often a person seeking records can be satisfied, and the agency in receipt of the request can efficiently comply with law.

I hope that I have been of assistance. Bob Freeman