The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA)

  • What is VFOIA?
    The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) is the state law governing access by citizens of Virginia and representatives of the media to public records and to meetings of public bodies, as defined in the act. VFOIA provides that, subject to some limited, specific exemptions, meetings of public bodies shall be open to the public and public records shall be open for public inspection. All meetings of public bodies and public records are presumed open unless an exemption has been invoked. Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) complies with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.

    What is a VFOIA request?
    Any request for public records, made either verbally or in writing, will be treated as a formal FOIA request.

    What is a public record?
    A public record is a writing or recording, regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or in any other format that is owned or prepared by, or in the possession of, a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business.

    What are some exemptions under VFOIA?
    Exemptions under VFOIA can include, but are not limited to:

    • Student records (§ 2.2-3705.4(A) (1))
    • Matters related to personnel (§ 2.2-3705.1 (1))
    • Attorney-client privileged information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (2))
    • Certain personal contact information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (10))
    • Security system footage (§ 2.2-3705.2 (2))
    • Security procedures and protocol (§ 2.2-3705.2 (14))
    • Vendor proprietary information (§ 2.2-3705.1 (6))

    How can I make a FOIA request?
    To request a public record, please visit the Public Records Center. You will be instructed to log in or create an account if you have not already done so. Any requests received via email, phone, or verbally will be entered into the GovQA system by an LCPS FOIA officer.

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    What happens after my request is made?
    As a rule, Loudoun County Public Schools responds to all requests for information as quickly as possible and Virginia FOIA laws require responses to public records requests to be sent within five (5) working days; however, it may not always be possible to fill requests for public records right away because records need to be reviewed first to see if they contain confidential information.  

    If the request is large or complex and it is not possible to produce the records within the five working days, the District can invoke a seven (7) day extension (working days). The LCPS FOIA officer can work with the requestor or petition the court to ask for more than 12 working days if needed. Working days include regular operational days of the government agency. The day after the FOIA Officer or District employee receives the request is considered the first day of the five-working-day response period. The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays. A work day consists of Monday through Friday from the hours of 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. 

    If a clarification is needed upon receiving the initial request because it is not reasonably specific, the five-day requirement does not begin until the clarification is received. 

    Is there a cost associated with submitting my request?
    There is no cost required to submit a public records request; however, per Virginia Code § 2.2-3704, a public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. Loudoun County Public Schools FOIA Office makes reasonable charges for the actual costs incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying or searching for requested records, based on the pay scales of applicable personnel who will be handling the request. It is the goal of Loudoun County Public Schools FOIA Office to keep production costs as low as possible.

    While citizens may request a cost estimate, a cost estimate will be generated and given to the requester through the GovQA messaging function. The period within which the public body shall respond under this section shall be tolled for the amount of time that elapses between notice of the cost estimate and the response of the requester.

    If the public body receives no response from the requester within 30 days of sending the cost estimate, the request shall be deemed to be withdrawn. 

    The cost of searching for or producing records may be waived as a courtesy within the discretion of LCPS, when the cost of record production is de minimis. The hourly minimum rate for any FOIA requests will be no lower than $23.55, however, the rate may increase based on the pay scale of the individual(s) assigned the request. 

    Payment for my Request
    In any case where a public body determines in advance that charges for producing the requested records are likely to exceed $200, the public body may, before continuing to process the request, require the requester to pay a deposit not to exceed the amount of the advance determination. 

    Before processing a request for records, a public body may require the requester to pay any amounts owed to the public body for previous requests for records that remain unpaid 30 days or more after billing. Requestors can ask that an estimate be provided in advance. If the estimated charge is more than $200, the District will provide an estimate in advance before doing any work.  

    If the estimate is less than $200 and the requestor did not ask for an estimate in advance, the request will be processed and an invoice will be sent with the response.  

    At this time, online payment for LCPS records through GovQA is not available. 

    Additional FOIA Questions
    LCPS FOIA FAQs 

    If you have any questions or would like to request additional information, please contact the LCPS FOIA Officers at lcpsfoia@lcps.org or 571-252-1040. 

    LCPS FOIA Officers
    Wayde Byard, Public Information Officer
    Dan Adams, Media & Community Relations Coordinator

    Learn more about VFOIA.

     

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Last Modified on August 11, 2022