Right to Know and Public Records Policy
Adopted: December 20, 2012
Amended: December 18, 2014
Public’s Right to Know:
The School Committee is a public servant, and its meetings and records will be a matter of public information except as such meetings and records pertain to individual personnel and other classified matters. Statutory restrictions of matters discussed in Executive Session will be observed.
The School Committee supports the right of the people to know about the programs and services of their schools and will make every effort to disseminate information. All requests for information will be acted on fairly, completely and expeditiously.
The official minutes of the School Committee, and its written policies and regulations are available on the School Committee’s website. Its financial records will be open for inspection at the office of the Superintendent by any citizen desiring to examine them during hours when the office is open. Neither the Superintendent, nor any other person responsible for the custody of confidential files, will release for inspection by the public or any unauthorized person, records pertaining to individual students or staff members. The exception to this will be information about an individual employee (or student) that has been authorized in writing for release by the employee, student, or student’s parent.
Each building administrator is authorized to use all means available to keep parents and others in the particular school’s community informed about the schools’ programs and activities.
The Hopkinton School Committee endeavors to provide information to the public in a timely and transparent manner. This philosophy is supported by the Massachusetts Public Records Law (M.G.L. c.66, §10), which provides that every person has a right of access to public information. This right of access includes the right to inspect, copy or have copies of records provided, upon the payment of a reasonable fee. With certain exceptions, all documents made or received by the District are public records.
The Massachusetts General Laws broadly define “public records” to include all documentary materials or data, regardless of physical form or characteristics, which are made or received by any officer or employee of any Massachusetts governmental entity. As a result, all photographs, papers and electronic storage media including electronic mail of which a governmental employee is the “custodian” constitute “public records.” There are, however, certain exemptions to this broad definition of “public records.” Those exemptions may be found at M.G.L. c.4, §7(26)(a-m).
Requests for public records may be oral or written, however the District encourages written requests. Requests may also be made in person, through the mail, by fax, or through electronic mail. Upon receipt of a request the District will determine whether the documents are readily available or will require search, segregation and/or redaction. A reasonable description of the document(s) requested should be provided, to assist the custodian in identifying the requested documents. The custodian has up to 10 days to provide a response to the request. The custodian is only required to provide records that are in existence and is not required to create a new record based on material in his/her custody to accommodate a specific request.
As per allowances under Massachusetts Public Records Law (M.G.L. c.66, §10), the district imposes a fee for copies required to comply with the request. Based on allowable rates established under the law, the current (September 2012) cost for copies of written documents is 20¢ per page for photocopies, and 50¢ per page for computer printouts. Those fees may be increased at any time to reflect changes in the applicable law or regulations. Providing requested documents might be a labor-intensive task, depending on the type of document, search parameters, and personnel needed to complete the request. Additional fees may be charged for over-sized documents (such as maps and plans, which cannot be copied with a normal photocopier), and for staff time to search for the records, segregate responsive documents from non-responsive documents, prepare documents for copying, photocopying, and re-filing. For documents containing both public and exempt information, District staff will redact the exempt data prior to release. There is an additional charge for the time spent redacting exempt data, which varies by request. The custodian is required to provide the requester with a good-faith estimate of the cost if it is expected to exceed $10. The District reserves the right to require payment in advance of the estimated costs of the District’s response to any public records request. In the event that the estimate so provided is incorrect, the balance due must be paid prior to receipt of the requested documents. Checks are to be made payable to the Hopkinton Public Schools. In the case of an overpayment, a refund will be issued.
950 CMR 32
Public Records Request Form
- A - Foundations and Basic Commitments
- B - School Board Governance and Operations
- C - General School Administration
- D - Fiscal Management
- E - Support Services
- F - Facilities Development
- G - Personnel
- H - Negotiations
- I - Instructional Program
- J - Students
- K - School-Community Relations
- L - Education Agency Relations