Public Records Requests
Statement of Policy
Superintendent Sherri Ybarra recognizes the importance of transparency in the government’s operation of the public’s business, especially in her effort to support schools and students to achieve. In order to ensure citizens have access to public records and to comply with Idaho’s Public Records Law, Idaho Code §74-101, et. seq., the following procedures have been adopted.
I. Public Records Request
A public record includes, but is not limited to, any writing containing information relating to the conduct or administration of the public's business prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics. "Writing" is defined as information maintained in many forms, including typewritten or hand written documents as well as pictures, maps, tapes, magnetic or punched cards, and computer discs. Common examples include: Excel spreadsheets, emails, letters, memos, or handwritten notes.
The Department of Education maintains records pursuant to its legislative mandate and responsibility in providing services for the state’s k-12 educational system. The records are maintained at 650 West State Street, Boise, Idaho, 83702, in accordance with the SDE’s document retention policy. Historical records are housed at external storage facilities or are turned over to the State Historical Society to be curated.
II. How to Request
Public records requests are to be in writing and shall include the requestor’s full legal name, mailing address and phone number. Preferably, public record requests are to be submitted through the on-line fillable form but will be accepted through any of the following methods:
- Online Form
- (208) 334-2228
- State Department of Education
c/o Public Records Requests
PO Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720-0027
For the purpose of public records requests, the SDE has designated the Public Records Program Specialist as the custodian of the public records. A request is officially received by the SDE when it has been received by a member of the communications department.
The custodian ensures the agency responds to the public records request in the amount of time required by law; confirms the records are responsive to the request; and, exempts from disclosure any information that falls within one of the exemptions outlined in Idaho Code.
IV. Timeline for Responses
The SDE has three (3) business days following receipt of the public records request to respond. If a request is received on a holiday or weekend, the response is considered received on the next business day. If more time is needed to locate or retrieve the public records, the SDE can ask for an extension of up to ten (10) total business days. Due to the scope of the actual request, certain productions may exceed the ten (10) days. On these rare occasions, the requestor will be contacted in regard to the necessary extension. All requests that may exceed the ten (10) days will be reviewed by the Deputy Attorney General assigned to the SDE.
V. Public Record Requests Format
The SDE does not guarantee access to the documents in a specific format. The format will be determined based on the specific request.
VI. Scope of the Public Records Request
When a request is vague, broad, or determined to be large-in-scope, the custodian or his/her designee may contact the requestor for clarification. An explanation may be given as to what records are available to help identify the material the requester is seeking. This information may help the requestor narrow the scope of the request when the response to the request is likely to be voluminous or require payment as provided for in Idaho Code §74-102(10).
The custodian shall make no other inquiry of any person who requests a public record other than to verify the identity of the requestor, to ensure the records will not be used for purposes of a mailing or telephone list; or as required to protect personal information from disclosure. Idaho Code § 74-102(5)(a-c).
VII. Exemptions from Disclosure
There is a presumption that all records maintained by the SDE are open to the public for inspection; however, in accordance with federal and state law, there are exemptions from disclosure to protect the rights of citizens. The following are some of the most common examples of exemptions from disclosure:
- Student level data is exempt from disclosure under both federal and state law, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, at 20 U.S.C. § 1232g , the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, at 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et. seq., and their implementing regulations, as well as the Idaho Student Data Accessibility, Transparency and Accountability Act of 2014, at Idaho Code §33-133.
- The Idaho State Board of Education Data Management Council Policies and Procedures requires that ,In order to protect student privacy, we must redact data in any cells of less than 5 students or where the difference between the total of one or more cells of categorical data is less than 5 of the total student population. In addition, State Board and DMC policies call for at least two cells to be redacted in most cases where any total is available, in order to prevent any cell required for redaction to be derived. Additional cells may be required to be redacted until the total of the exempt and therefore redacted aggregate data in a line or column equals 5 or more. Zero is considered a number.
- Personnel records, personal information, health records and professional discipline relating to public employees or applicants are exempt from disclosure without the employee’s or applicant’s written consent. Idaho Code §74-106(1), (8), and (9).
- Trade secrets and proprietary information are exempt as provided by Idaho Code §74-107.
- The use of any list for the purpose of a mailing or telephone list is prohibited by Idaho Code §74-120.
If you disagree with a denial, Idaho Code §74-115 authorizes a person aggrieved by the denial of a public records request to file a petition in Idaho district court appealing the agency’s decision. The petition must be filed in the county where the records are located and within 180 days from the date on which the denial notice was mailed.
VIII. Fee Schedule
Under Idaho Code §74-102(10), the SDE is authorized to establish a fee schedule to cover labor and copying costs. If it is determined a fee will be charged, the custodian or his/her representative will notify the requestor in writing of the estimated fee.
All costs outlined will represent actual costs to the SDE and at no time will fees be requested that exceeds actual cost to the SDE. All labor costs shall be charged at the per hour rate of the lowest paid employee who is necessary and qualified to process the request. If the request requires a review made by an attorney, the rate charged shall be no more than the per hour rate of the lowest paid attorney on staff. All fees associated with the public records request must be paid in advance. Upon receipt of payment, the request will be considered officially received by the SDE in regard to the timeline for responses.
A waiver to this fee schedule may be granted at the discretion of the custodian or his/her designee in accordance with Idaho Code §74-102(10)(f).