Public Records Request
Elma School District is committed to full disclosure and transparency in making public records available. Questions or comments regarding the School District’s public records process may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, mailed to 1235 Monte-Elma Road, Elma, WA 98541 Attn: Public Records Office, or call (360) 482-2822.
For assistance in accessing students’ education records, call the respective school which they attend or last attended.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Public Records Act?
RCW 42.56.070 requires each agency to make available for inspection and copying non-exempt public records in accordance with the Public Records Act (PRA). The purpose of the Act is to provide the public full access to information concerning the conduct of government, mindful of individuals’ privacy rights. View the Public Records Act
What is a public record?
The PRA defines a public record as "any writing containing information relating to the conduct of government or the performance of any governmental or proprietary function prepared, owned, used, or retained by any state or local agency regardless of physical form or characteristics."
How do I request public records?
Any person wishing to inspect or obtain public records should make the request in writing on the Elma School District Public Records Request Form. The request should include the requestor’s name, contact information, detailed description of the record, and date of the request. For assistance in submitting a request, please call (360) 482-2822.
How do I know which records to ask for?
If you’re not sure what to request, feel free to call (360) 482-2822 for assistance. If you can tell us what it is you’re looking for, we can help identify the record you need or the staff member who can provide the information.
Under Public Records laws, a requestor is not required to identify the exact record he/she seeks, but is required to request an “identifiable record.” An “identifiable record” is one that agency staff can reasonably locate.
How can I get the records I need quickly?
The District receives and processes many records requests every month. If you would like to obtain records quickly, the following information may help:
- Focus on specific records you need. For example, “Minutes from the October 1, 2014 Bus Safety Task Force Committee meeting.
- Provide clear, specific details about the records you are seeking to assist the District in processing your request quickly and efficiently.
- Avoid making an overly-broad request. For example, if you want to know how much the District spent on a particular item, identifying the item and approximate time it was purchased would allow the District to respond much more quickly and efficiently than requesting records of all expenditures for an undetermined period of time.
- Depending on the nature/volume of anticipated records responsive to your request, the District may need to respond to your request in installments. Please provide any guidance as to whether you have a preference or priority set of documents (e.g. records from a specific date range, records from a specific department/staff member, records on one particular subject before another, etc.). Such clarification will allow the District to prioritize the process in order to gather all responsive records and provide them to you in the most efficient manner possible.
- Please keep in mind, a broad and unclear request will take longer to process and may require additional clarification. If you are unsure which records might contain information you are specifically looking for, please contact us for assistance.
- Avoid using phrases such “regarding” or “related to” when describing records. Those inexact phrases often cause a delay because records you think are “related” could be different from what the District thinks are “related.” A more precise request is for “records that discuss [insert your subject here]”
- If you have any questions about how to identify records, please call the District (360) 482-2822 and we will be happy to assist you.
What about E-Mails and Electronic Records?
- Thousands of emails are sent from and received by the District on a daily basis and are maintained on the District’s centrally archived email system. Please keep in mind that email records take longer to process than other records requests.
- If your request includes emails or other electronic records, it is helpful to provide a specific the date range and suggest search terms that will allow the District to locate and assemble identifiable records responsive to your request.
- Please note, as a school district, many emails contain student names for a variety of reasons: Class lists, schedules and information, school or class newsletters, state reporting data, for example. Many emails specifically discuss a student issues, education, assignments, etc. The District will need additional time to process requests for emails because of the need to review and redact (black out student names or exempt information).
What is the District’s policy on disclosure of public records?
- It is the School Board’s policy to disclose public records pursuant to the public records laws.
How Does the District Process Public Records Requests?
- The Public Records Act governs each agency to provide access to public records and protect records from damage. The District will provide the fullest assistance to requestors, and provide a timely response to 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 and without excessive interference with other essential functions of the District.
- Within five (5) business days of receipt of the request, the public records officer will do one or more of the following:
- Acknowledge receipt of request and provide a reasonable estimate of when records will be available; or
- Make the records available for inspection or copying; or
- Seek clarification of request if the request is unclear or does not sufficiently identify the requested records. Such clarification may be requested and provided by telephone; or
- Deny the request.
I want some information but don’t know how to get it. Should I just fill out a request form?
You may complete and submit a Public Records Request Form, but you may be able to obtain the information much more quickly by speaking with District staff. If you have questions and are unsure who you should speak to, please call our office. We would be happy to discuss your concerns with you and point you in the right direction to obtain the information you are seeking.
Is there someone I can call for help?
Yes! If you need records or information and are unsure how to proceed, please call our office. We would be happy to help by connecting you with someone who may provide the information you are seeking. We can also assist with completing a records request form.
When are Public Records Available?
Public records are available for inspection upon appointment during normal business hours of Elma School District.
Are There Fees for Public Records?
You may inspect public records at no charge. The District will charge 0.15 cents per page for copies. There will be a $2.50 fee for records provided by CD or DVD (plus an additional $2.20 if you wish to have disc mailed to you.) Fees can be paid by cash/check or money order and CD/DVDs may be picked up at the District Office 1235 Monte Elma Road, Elma WA 98541
Student Records and Transcripts
For questions about accessing student records or for assistance in requesting student records, please contact Student Services at their respective school.
Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
Protecting Students’ Privacy
The District often encounters student names and personally identifiable information in its review of records responsive to public records requests. This information may not necessarily be exempt from a public records request; however, the District is sensitive to any personally identifiable information of students and has a practice of asking requestors for clarification as to whether they are seeking student names or other personally identifiable information of students. As such, the boxes on the form indicate if a requestor is seeking student names or other personally identifiable information of a student(s). Please note that if you wish to give permission to exclude this information from the records the District provides, you would still receive each applicable record in its entirety, only the student name or other personally identifiable information of a student would be redacted.