Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Requests

Requests for Records Pursuant to the Freedom Of Information Act

FOIA provides the public with access to existing non-exempt official records of a public agency, but does not require the Division to generate or create records, nor respond to inquiries for information. Certain categories of records may be withheld under FOIA, such as personnel records; student records; test and examinations used to evaluate student or employee performance; records relating to the security of students, staff and property; records protected from disclosure under the attorney-client or work-product privileges; the Superintendent's working papers; closed session materials, etc.

Your FOIA Rights

  • You have the right to request to inspect or receive copies of non-exempt public records, or both.
  • You have the right to request that any charges for the requested records be estimated in advance.
  • If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA. Alternatively, you may contact the FOIA Council for a nonbinding advisory opinion.

Making a Request for Records from PWCS

Any request for official public records made under Virginia's Freedom of Information Act shall be directed and/or delivered to the Division's FOIA Compliance Officer, who has been designated as such pursuant to Va. Code § 2.2-3704.1 (A) (2), as follows:

Soledad Araya, FOIA Officer
Prince William County Public Schools
P.O. Box 389
Manassas, VA 20108
foiaofficer@pwcs.edu, (phone) 571-402-3150, (fax) 703-498-2002

You may request records by U.S. mail, fax, email, in person, or over the phone. From a practical perspective, it is helpful to both you and PWCS to have your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request and assists PWCS in understanding exactly what records you are requesting and expediting a response.

Such requests should be dated, and must state with "reasonable specificity" the documents requested so that PWCS can identify and locate the records you are seeking. The requestor shall provide his or her name and legal address when making a request. You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by PWCS in the regular course of business.

PWCS Responsibilities in Responding to Your Request

  • PWCS must respond to your request within five working days of receiving it. "Day one" is considered the day after your request is received. The five-day period does not include weekends, holidays, or days PWCS is otherwise closed for business (e.g., "Code Red" days). FOIA requires that PWCS make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:
  1. We will provide you with the records that you have requested in their entirety.
  2. We will withhold all of the records that you have requested, because all of the records are subject to a specific statutory exemption. If all of the records are being withhold, we must send you a response in writing. That writing must identify the volume and subject matter of the records being withheld, and state the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows us to withhold the records.
  3. We will provide some of the records that you have requested, but withhold other records. We cannot withhold an entire record if only a portion of it is subject to an exemption. In that instance, we may redact the portion of the record that may be withheld, and must provide you with the remainder of the record. We must also provide you with a written response stating the specific section of the Code of Virginia that allows portions of the requested records to be withheld.
  4. We will inform you in writing that the requested records cannot be found or do not exist (we do not have the records you want). However, if we know that another public body has the requested records, we must include contact information for that public body in our response to you.
  5. If it is practically impossible for PWCS to respond to your request within the five-day period, we must state this in writing, explaining the conditions that make the response impossible. This will allow us seven additional working days to respond to your request, giving us a total of 12 working days to respond to your request.
  • If you make a request for a very large number of records, and we feel that we cannot provide the records to you within 12 working days without disrupting our other organizational responsibilities, we may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request. However, FOIA requires that we make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with you concerning the production or the records before we go to court to ask for more time.

Charges

You may have to pay for the records that you request from PWCS. A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. This includes items like staff time spent searching for the requested records, copying costs, or any other costs directly related to supplying the requested records. You have the right to request that an estimated cost of production be provided in advance when you submit a request.

If we estimate that it will cost more than $200 to respond to your request, we may require you to pay a deposit, not to exceed the amount of the estimate, before proceeding with your request. The five days that we have to respond to your request do not include the time between when we ask for a deposit and when you respond.

If a requester has owed payment on a FOIA request for more than 30 days, PWCS will require payment of the past-due bill prior to processing a new FOIA request from that requester.

How to Request Information Informally

Citizens and members of the media are encouraged to submit informal requests for information and documents relating to the School Division directly to the Communications Department. These requests will be handled as expeditiously as possible, but will not be considered requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Act, or any other formal legal vehicle.

Submit an informal request for information.

This notice complies with the posting requirements of Va. Code § 2.2-3704.1.