Charter school managers and officials should be aware that the Executive Director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records has recently made public statements criticizing charter schools that take the position that they should not be subject to the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law.
Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law, enacted by the General Assembly in 2008, imposes obligations on government agencies to disclose public records promptly upon requests from the public, unless the public record falls under one of 30 exemptions. The law is relevant to charter schools because the General Assembly defined governmental “agency” to include charter schools and cyber charter schools—thereby subjecting those schools to the law.
Particularly in light of the current scrutiny by the Office of Open Records, which adjudicates appeals regarding Right-to-Know requests, charter schools must understand specific provisions of the Right-to-Know Law, appoint an employee as the “Open Records Officer,” and have a policy in place for receiving and responding to Right-to-Know requests. Failure to have a policy in place and respond to requests in a timely manner risks waiving the 30 available exemptions and forcing public disclosure of confidential information.
Ballard Spahr’s Government Relations, Regulatory Affairs and Contracting Group continues to track efforts to wield the Right-to-Know Law against private third parties, and assists both public and private clients with understanding how the law affects them. For more information on how the Right-to-Know Law affects you, contact Michael D. Fabius at 215.864.8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Valarie J. Allen at 215.864.8565 or email@example.com.