The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces several federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education (ED). These civil rights laws enforced by OCR extend to all state education agencies, elementary and secondary school systems, colleges and universities, vocational schools, proprietary schools, state vocational rehabilitation agencies, libraries, and museums that receive federal financial assistance from ED.Office for Civil Rights U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20202-1100 1-800-421-3481 FAX: (202) 245-6840 E-mail: OCR@ed.gov www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
You can learn more about how to make request for public information from the federal government under the Freedom of Information Act .
HOW TO MAKE A PUBLIC INFORMATION REQUEST IN TEXAS
You may request records from city, county, state, and federal governments to determine how those governments are conducting business. Congressional and state legislative offices are also required to release information under public information laws. Examples of documents you can obtain include budgets, contracts, correspondence, reports, and minutes of meetings or hearings. A government entity does not have to release information that is classified as confidential and other certain information, such as the names of students, some personnel records, etc.
State and federal laws govern the release of information to the public. You must follow your state law when requesting information in your state. If the government entity refuses to provide information to which you believe you are entitled, the law will tell you the next step to take to get the information.
Below is information on how to make a public information request in Texas, and instructions on how to write a letter to request public information from a school district in Texas.
The Texas Government Code (sections 552.001 – 552.353) recognizes that government is the servant and not the master of the people, and that the people are entitled, unless otherwise expressly provided by law, at all times to full information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees. This sample letter will help you obtain public information and records Texas.
The Texas Attorney General has issued a tremendous decision for all Texans seeking the prompt and timely release of public information under the Texas Public Information Act (formerly the “Texas Open Records Act”). Texas Attorney General Open Records Decision No. 664 has recognized the government’s responsibility to release requested public information promptly and without delay, and that the 10 business day legal requirement time frame to respond to a public information request is “not a grace period.” “Thus, if it [is] reasonably possible to do so, a governmental body must release the requested information prior to the expiration of ten business days.”
SAMPLE PUBLIC INFORMATION REQUEST LETTER
1. Make sure your letter is dated and addressed to the Officer for Public Information for the governmental body/entity/agency from whom you are asking records to be produced.
NOTE: The chief administrative officer of a governmental body is the Officer for Public Information (e.g., the Superintendent of a school district is the Officer for Public Information for that district).
2. Make sure letter is sent certified mail, return receipt requested. You can also personally deliver the letter and request a receipt of delivery. Be sure to retain a copy of your letter for your records.
3. If you receive an unsatisfactory response to your request, attached is additional information.
Letter:[Name], Superintendent [name of school district] [address Dear Superintendent [name],
I am the parent [guardian] of [name of student] who attends [name of school] Please accept this letter as a request for public information under the Texas Public Information Act (formerly the Texas Open Records Act), Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code.
[Select sentence (1) or (2) below that applies to your request]
- This request is for the copying and production of public information of all records relating to my child, [name of child], including the following:
- This request is for the right to inspect and review public information.
- Counseling records and notes of counselor(s)
- Psychological, career, aptitude, and behavioral tests
- Medical records and notes
If any information exists in electronic or magnetic medium (i.e. on computer), I request a copy of that material on paper. (Tex. Gov’t Code §552.228(b)).
If there is a charge for the information requested, please inform me as soon as possible.
Please notify me at your earliest convenience to let me know when the information I have requested is ready. I expect to hear with you within 10 days of receipt of this request, as required by law