What happens when I make a Public Records Request?
The CCS Office of the Public Records Officer acts as a clearinghouse for requests for records from the public. When we receive a request, we work on responding to it, in the order in which it was received.
Within five business days, you will be notified that your request has been received. Our staff then contacts the department(s) holding the records you seek and provides them with a copy of your request. The department(s) will identify, collect and forward the records to the Public Records Officer.
The Public Records Officer reviews these records and may remove information as allowed by the public records statute, state law, federal law or case law. The officer also may notify third parties who have an interest in the records you are requesting.
You will be contacted once this review is complete and records are ready for release. The response date by which your records will be available depends on the number of requests received before yours, and the size and complexity of your request. If a request is very complex, more time may be required. You'll be notified if this is the case.
Can you keep my request for records confidential?
No, your public records request is not a confidential record. The request is itself a public record. It can be requested by others, plus the public records officer forwards public records requests to departments holding records and to third parties who have an interest in the records requested.
Are some records not subject to public disclosure?
Washington State law specifically exempts some records from public disclosure. Exemptions are designed to protect the privacy of individuals, protect law enforcement or other investigative agencies processes or the legitimate business interests of citizens.
Exemptions include, but are not limited to:
Information regarding staff and faculty, such as social security numbers, home phone numbers, home addresses, resumes and employment applications
Student personal information including school and medical records
Investigative records relating to current enforcement
Examination test scores
Data that if disclosed could result in private gain and/or public loss
Correspondence between agency staff and the Attorney General’s Office
Information from certain records which would constitute an invasion of privacy as defined in (RCW 42.56.210)
In some cases, we may redact portions of a public record exempt from disclosure. It is our obligation to tell you why a record is exempt.
If you want to dispute that a document has been determined non-public information it will be necessary for the college to request an Attorney General’s opinion about this information. The Attorney General’s office has up to 12 weeks to make a decision on whether the information is public or not public.
What happens if my request is denied?
If your public records request is denied, you may appeal the decision by submitting a written request for appeal to the Public Records Officer. The written request must specifically refer to the written statement by the public records officer that accompanied the denial.
The public records officer will refer your written request for appeal to the chancellor or designee. The chancellor or designee will immediately consider the matter, may consult with the Office of the Attorney General, and will either affirm or reverse the denial. The request will be returned with a final decision within two business days following the filing of the written request for review. If the review affirms the denial of access to a public record, the requestor has a right to seek a written opinion from the Office of the Attorney General. The requestor also has a right to obtain a court review of the denial of a public records request.
Where can I find out more about the Public Records Act and how it works?
Here are links to the sections of Washington State Law that govern public records and public information: