132M-110-060  <<  132M-110-080 >>   132M-110-090

Requests for public records.

Both requestors and agencies have responsibilities under the act. The public records process can function properly only when both parties perform their respective responsibilities. An agency has a duty to promptly provide access to all nonexempt public records. A requestor has a duty to request identifiable records, inspect the assembled records or pay for the copies, and be respectful to agency staff.

(1) Providing "fullest assistance." Lower Columbia College is charged by statute with adopting rules which provide for how it will provide full access to public records, protect records from damage or disorganization, prevent excessive interference with other essential functions of the agency, provide fullest assistance to requestors, and provide the timeliest possible action on public records requests. The public records officer or designee will process requests in the order allowing the most requests to be processed in the most efficient manner.

(2) Acknowledging receipt of request. Within five business days of receipt of the request, the public records officer will do one or more of the following:

(a) Make the records available for inspection or copying;

(b) If copies are requested and payment of a deposit for the copies, if any, is made or terms of payment are agreed upon, send the copies to the requestor;

(c) Provide a reasonable estimate of when records will be available; or

(d) Request clarification from the requestor by telephone or in writing if the request is unclear or does not sufficiently identify the requested records. To the greatest extent possible, the request for clarification will provide a reasonable estimate of the time required to respond to the request if it is not clarified. If the requestor fails to clarify the request, and the entire request is unclear, the public records officer need not respond to it. Otherwise, the public records officer must respond to those portions of the request that are clear. Once clarification is received, the public records officer or designee may revise the estimate of when records will be available; or

(e) Deny the request.

(3) Protecting rights of others. In the event the requested records contain information that may affect rights of others and may reasonably be exempt from disclosure, the public records officer may, prior to providing the records, give notice to such others whose rights may be affected by the disclosure. Such notice should be given so as to make it possible for those other persons to contact the requestor and ask him or her to revise the request, or, if necessary, seek an order from a court to prevent or limit the disclosure. The notice to the affected persons will include a copy of the request.

(4) Records exempt from disclosure. Some records are exempt from disclosure, in whole or in part. If the college believes that a record is exempt from disclosure and should be withheld, the public records officer will state the specific exemption and provide a brief explanation of why the record or a portion of the record is being withheld. If only a portion of a record is exempt from disclosure, but the remainder is not exempt, the public records officer will redact the exempt portions, provide the nonexempt portions, and indicate to the requestor why portions of the record are being redacted.

(5) Inspection of records.

(a) Consistent with other demands, the college shall promptly provide space to inspect public records. No member of the public may remove a document from the viewing area or disassemble or alter any document. The requestor shall indicate which documents he or she wishes the college to copy.

(b) The requestor must claim or review the assembled records within thirty days of the college's notification that the records are available for inspection or copying. The college will notify the requestor in writing of this requirement and inform the requestor to contact the college to make arrangements to claim or inspect the records. If the requestor or a representative of the requestor fails to claim or review the records within the thirty-day period or make other arrangements, the college may close the request and refile the assembled records. Other public records requests can be processed ahead of a subsequent request by the same person for the same or almost identical records, which can be processed as a new request.

(6) Providing copies of records. After inspection is complete, the public records officer or designee shall make the requested copies or arrange for copying by college staff.

(7) Providing records in installments. When the request is for a large number of records, the public records officer or designee will provide access for inspection and copying in installments, if the public records officer reasonably determines that it would be practical to provide the records in that way. If, within thirty days, the requestor fails to inspect the entire set of records or one or more of the installments, the public records officer or designee may stop searching for the remaining records and close the request.

(8) Completion of inspection. When the inspection of the requested records is complete and all requested copies are provided, the public records officer or designee will indicate that Lower Columbia College has completed a diligent search for the requested records and made any located nonexempt records available for inspection.

(9) Closing withdrawn or abandoned request. When the requestor either withdraws the request or fails to fulfill the obligation to inspect the records or pays the deposit or final payment for the requested copies, the public records officer will close the request and indicate to the requestor that the college has closed the request.

(10) Later discovered documents. If, after the college has informed the requestor that it has provided all available records, the college becomes aware of additional responsive documents existing at the time of the request, it will promptly inform the requestor of the additional documents and provide them on an expedited basis.

[Statutory Authority: RCW 28B.50.140, 42.56.040, 42.56.070, 42.56.100, and 42.56.120 as amended by 2017, c 304. WSR 18-11-094, § 132M-110-080, filed 5/18/18, effective 6/18/18; Order 1-75, § 132M-110-080, filed 11/10/75.]
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