Freedom of Information Act
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a state law that ensures that citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia have “ready access to records in the custody of public officials and free entry to meetings of public bodies wherein the business of the people being transacted.”
“Records” include all printed documents, emails, videos and electronic files created by staff or documents that reflect the work of the school division. This means minutes and documents from most meetings as well as all APS official records are subject to public scrutiny with the exception of:
- Scholastic records and personnel records containing information concerning identifiable individuals;
- Writings protected by the attorney-client privilege or the attorney work product doctrine;
- Tests and examinations (subject to certain qualifications); and
- Vendor proprietary information software.
There are many other exceptions listed in the State Code.
The Freedom of Information Act covers only documents (in any form) that exist. This includes documents that are in the computer (either home or APS) if it deals with the business of the school division. FOIA does not require APS to create a document, nor does it require APS to provide information that is not in any document.
Requests must be responded to within five working days, so please forward immediately. The law authorizes the Arlington Public Schools to charge the costs of total staff time for searching and copying.
All requests for documents that require more than 15 minutes of staff time should be referred to the Assistant Superintendent, School and Community Relations, for appropriate charges and handling. In addition, the Assistant Superintendent, School and Community Relations is available to assist all school administrators and staff to determine appropriate actions required to ensure that APS complies with the Act.