The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a state law that ensures that “guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.” “Records” include all printed documents, emails, videos and electronic files created by staff or documents that reflect the work of the school division. This means minutes and documents from most meetings as well as all ACPS official records are subject to public scrutiny with the exception of:
- Scholastic records and personnel records containing information concerning identifiable individuals;
- Writings protected by the attorney-client privilege or the attorney work product doctrine;
- Tests and examinations (subject to certain qualifications); and
- Vendor proprietary information software.
There are many other exceptions listed in the State Code. The Freedom of Information Act applies to requests from businesses or residents in the Commonwealth of Virginia or from media representatives. The Act requires ACPS to produce only those documents (in any form) that already exist. This includes documents that are in the computer (either home or ACPS) if it deals with the business of the school division. FOIA does not require ACPS to create a document, nor does it require ACPS to provide information that is not in any document.
Requests must be responded to within five working days, so please forward immediately. The law authorizes the Appomattox County Public Schools to charge the costs of total staff time for searching and copying
All requests for documents that require more than 15 minutes of staff time should be referred immediately to the Financial Officer for appropriate charges and handling. In addition, the FIOA is available to assist all school administrators and staff to determine appropriate actions required to ensure that ACPS complies with the Act.