FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
Ms. Sally Ludwig
The staff of the
Freedom of Information Advisory Council is authorized to issue
advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based
solely upon the information presented in your correspondence,
unless otherwise indicated.
This will acknowledge
receipt of your letter date August 21, 2000 wherein you requested
information regarding the release of a "master list" compiled
by the school administration at Robert E. Lee High School
in Staunton, Virginia. You indicate that the "master list"
is a listing of all courses offered for the next academic
year, the times at which they are offered, and identifies
the instructor who will be teaching each course. Specifically,
you asked whether the Virginia Freedom of Information Act
(FOIA) requires the release of the "master list", even though
that list may be subject to revision by the administration.
reflects the policy of FOIA as enacted by the General Assembly.
This section expressly provides that "…unless a public body
or public official specifically elects to exercise an exemption
provided by this chapter or any other statute, every meeting
shall be open to the public and all public records shall be
available for inspection and copying upon request. All public
records and meetings shall be presumed open, unless an exemption
is properly invoked…."
FOIA defines "public
record" as "all writings and recordings which consist of letters,
words or numbers, or their equivalent, set down by handwriting,
typewriting, printing, photostatting…….however stored, and
regardless of physical form or characteristics, prepared or
owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers,
employees or agents in the transaction of public business".
This definition would include draft copies of public records.
When FOIA was originally enacted in 1968, the definition of
"public record" (then "official record") was limited to records
of "completed actions or transactions." That qualifying language
was deleted from FOIA in 1973 and, by implication,
public records do not have to be in final form or approved
to be subject to the mandatory disclosure requirements of
Further, for the
purposes of FOIA, "scholastic records" are defined as those
records containing information directly related to a student
and maintained by a public body which is an educational agency
or institution or by a person acting for such agency or institution.
As I interpret the
provisions referenced above, it is clear that the "master
list", even one that is subject to revision, is a public record
under FOIA and therefore subject to its mandatory disclosure
Thank you for contacting
this office. I hope that I have been of assistance.
Maria J. K. Everett