What’s Public What’s Not!
Public Information Act
Government is the servant, not the
People are entitled to complete
information, with limited exceptions.
Government does not get to decide
what is good for the people to know.
Information is public unless it fits one of
the exceptions in the statute.
Applies to information “collected,
assembled or maintained” in connection
with official business.
General Rules (continued)
Includes a book, paper, letter,
document, printout, photo, film, tape,
microfiche, microfilm, photostat,
sound recording, map, drawing, voice,
data or video representation in
This chapter does not require the
release of information contained in
education records of an educational
agency or institution except in
conformity with the Family
Educational Rights and Privacy Act
of 1974. (FERPA)
Common Exceptions: I
Information that is “confidential by law.”
Information in a personnel file if the
disclosure would be a “clearly
unwarranted invasion of personal
Your college transcript, except for degree
obtained and curriculum studied.
Common Exceptions: II
Information pertaining to pending litigation.
Information that would give a bidder an
Location or appraisal of property under
Home address, phone number of public
employees who exercise “opt out” option.
A document evaluating the performance
of a teacher or administrator is
confidential. (Texas Education Code 21.355)
This applies to any document
“evaluating performance”—not just to
the formal evaluation instrument.
The Attorney General’s office must decide if a
particular document meets one of the
After receipt of a written request, the school
must ask the AG for an opinion within 10
Failure to ask for an AG opinion in a timely
fashion will mean that the information is
deemed public, subject to very limited
Basics of the PIA Request
Our duties under the PIA are triggered
only by a written request.
“Written” can be on paper or electronic.
It does not have to include any magic
Use common sense.
We don’t have to …
Create information that does not exist.
Copy or permit copying of commercially
available or copyrighted publications.
Compile or extract information when
access to the records by the requester will
We Do Have To…
Treat all requests uniformly.
Give the requester “reasonable comfort
and facility for the full exercise of
Make a good faith effort to find
information that is responsive to the
Date stamp the request.
Notify your public information
The PIA requires us to
balance the public’s right to
know vs. legitimate privacy