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Niskayuna Schools > Community > Freedom of Information Law

The Freedom of Information Law and Records Access

The district is committed to transparency and openness in how it operates. The state's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) reaffirms the rights of citizens to know how their government works at all levels, including school districts. FOIL is based on the presumption of access to government records and states that all records are accessible, with certain exceptions stipulated by the law. The New York State Committee on Open Government is a terrific resource on the Freedom of Information Law. (link)

 

FOIL Requests

Requests for Niskayuna Central School District records should be submitted to the district's Records Access Officer, Deborah Marriott. Requests can be made by mail (Deborah Marriott, Niskayuna School District Office, 1239 Van Antwerp Road, Niskayuna, NY 12309) or e-mail (dmarriott@niskyschools.org).

 

What is a record?

The law defines "record" as "any information kept, held, filed, produced or reproduced by, with or for an agency" such as a school district. An agency is not required to create a new record or provide information in response to questions to comply with the law; however, the courts have held that an agency must provide records in the form requested if it has the ability to do so.

 

What is the timeline for receiving records that have been requested?

This depends upon the nature of the request. Under FOIL, an agency has five business days to acknowledge a request for records and either grant the request in full or part, deny the request, or indicate the date by which such records will be provided. When circumstances prevent disclosure of records within 25 days, such as when large volumes of information are requested, agencies must indicate the reason for this in writing and provide a date by which the records will be available. Appeals for requests that are denied should be directed to the Superintendent of Schools, 1239 Van Antwerp Road, Niskayuna, NY 12309.

 

What is the charge for records?

This also depends. The law permits charges of up to 25 cents per photocopy. If you request records to be transmitted electronically, and the agency maintains the records electronically, there may be no fee. When it takes an agency more than 2 hours to provide access to a requested record, there can be a charge for the staff time involved.

 

What records are not subject to FOIL?

Although FOIL is based on a presumption of access, there are certain exceptions that permit an agency to deny access. "Most of the exceptions are based upon common sense and the potential for harm that would arise by means of disclosure," according to the state Committee on Open Government's website. This includes when disclosure violate the law, result in an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, or interfere with a criminal investigation or judicial proceedings.