Public Access Opinion 16-010

Failure to Respond to a FOIA Request

Freedom of Information Act - FOIA
Case: Public Access Opinion 16-010
Date: Monday, November 14, 2016

For the fifth time this calendar year, the PAC has told public bodies they must respond to FOIA requests. An individual submitted a FOIA request via email to a school district for various documents pertaining to an accounting, consulting and technology firm the school district did business with. The same day, the requestor received an automatic email response from the school district acknowledging receipt of the FOIA request and extending the timeline to respond by an additional five business days to ten total business days, as permitted by Section 3(e) of FOIA. Thirty-one days after submitting her FOIA request, the requestor had yet to receive a response from the school district. The school district also failed to respond to the PAC’s inquiries. The PAC ordered the school district to immediately provide all records responsive to the FOIA requester, subject only to any permissible redactions under Section 7. Again, the bottom line here is that public bodies must respond to FOIA requests within the time permitted per statute.

This opinion is binding only to the parties involved and may be appealed pursuant to State law.