Lone Star College System (The System) supports the public's right to information about the System. To the end that every citizen will be informed of the wealth of opportunities available through its colleges, the Chancellor will designate a System-wide point of official information dissemination.
"Public Information" means information that is collected, assembled, or maintained under a law or ordinance, or in connection with the transaction of official business by the Board or for the Board and to which the Board has right of access.
Public information is available to the public during the System's normal business hours.
The following categories of information are public information unless they are expressly confidential under the law:
Each System employee and Board member and each former employee and former Board member shall choose whether to allow public access to System-held information relating to the person's home address, home telephone number, or Social Security number, or that reveals whether the person has family members. Employees and Board members shall state their choice to the System's main personnel officer not later than the 14th day after employment begins, election or appointment to the Board occurs, or service with the System ends.
If an employee or officer fails to state his or her choice within 14 days, the information is available to the public. However, a Board member or employee may make a written request at any time to the personnel officer to open or close access to the System held information described above.
In addition to the information in Section A.1.02 above, categories of information that are not required to be disclosed to the public include:
The Board or the designated officer for public information voluntarily may make part or all of its records available to the public, unless the disclosure is expressly prohibited by law or the records are confidential by law.
System-held information relating to the home address, home telephone number, or social security number of peace officers or security officers commissioned by the Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies, or any information that reveals whether the person has family members, is confidential and may not be disclosed if the person chooses to restrict public access to the information and notifies the System on a form provided by the System, accompanied by evidence of the individual's status.
The Public Records Coordinator of the Office of General Counsel shall be the System's public information officer. Each College President shall be an agent of the officer for public records for the purposes of complying with the Texas Public Information Act and the System's policy on public information. The public information officer shall:
The System may promulgate reasonable rules of procedure by which public records may be inspected efficiently, safely, and without delay and in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
An officer for public records shall promptly produce public information for inspection, duplication, or both, in System or College offices on application by any person. If the requested information is unavailable at the time because it is in storage or active use, the officer shall certify this fact in writing to the requestor and set a date and hour within a reasonable time when the record will be available for inspection or duplication. An original of a public record shall not be removed from System or College offices by a requestor.
The officer for public records shall not make an inquiry of any person who applies for inspection or copying of public records except to establish proper identification and to clarify the information being requested. All reasonable comfort and facility shall be extended to the requestor.
The officer for public records or the officer's agent shall treat all requests for information uniformly without regard to the position or occupation of the person making the request, the person on whose behalf the request is made, or the status of the individual as a member of the media.
A person requesting public information shall complete the examination of the information not later than the tenth business day after the date the officer for public records makes it available. The officer shall extend the initial examination period by an additional ten days if, within the initial period, the person requesting the information files with the officer a written request for additional time. The officer shall permit a second additional ten-day examination period if, within the first additional period, the person requesting the information files with the officer a second written request for time. If the requestor does not complete the examination within ten days after the information is made available and does not file a timely request for additional time, the request is considered withdrawn.
The time during which a person may examine information may be interrupted by the officer if the information is needed for use by the System. The period of interruption is not considered to be a part of the time during which the person may examine the information.
The officer of public information shall provide a suitable copy of public information within a reasonable time after the date on which the copy is requested.
If public information exists in an electronic or magnetic medium, the requestor may request a copy either on paper or in an electronic medium, such as on diskette or on magnetic tape. The officer for public information shall provide a copy in the requested medium if the System has the technological ability to produce the information in the requested medium and is not required to purchase any software or hardware to accommodate the request, and providing that the copy will not violate any copyright agreement between the System and a third party.
If the officer is unable to comply with a request to produce a copy of information in a requested medium for any of these reasons, the System shall provide either a paper copy or a copy in another medium that is acceptable to the requestor. The officer is not required to copy information onto a diskette or other material provided by the requestor but may use System supplies.
If the officer determines that responding to a request for information will require programming or manipulation of data and that compliance with the request is not feasible, or will result in substantial interference with operations, or the information could be made available in the requested form only at a cost that covers the programming and manipulation of data, it shall provide to the requestor a written statement that includes all of the following information:
The officer shall provide the written statement to the requestor within 20 business days after the date the officer receives the request. The officer has an additional ten (10) days to provide the statement if the officer gives written notice to the requestor within 20 days after receiving the request that additional time is needed.
After providing the written statement described above, the officer has no further obligation to provide the information in the requested form or in the form in which it is available, unless within 30 days the requestor writes to the officer stating that the requestor wants the information in the requested form according to the time and cost parameters set out in the officer's statement or that the requestor wants the information in the form in which it is available. If the requestor does not make a timely request within the 30 days as stated herein, the request for information is considered withdrawn.
The officer of public information shall establish policies that assure the expeditious and accurate processing of requests for information that require programming or manipulation of data. The System shall maintain a readily accessible file containing all written statements issued concerning requests for information that require programming or manipulation of data.
The System may not inquire as to the purpose of the request. The System may seek clarification in writing from a requestor if a request is unclear. If a large amount of information has been requested, the System may discuss with the requestor how the scope of the request may be narrowed. If the information requested relates to a motor vehicle record, the System may require the requestor to provide identifying information sufficient to determine whether the requestor may have access to such information under the Transportation Code.
If by the 61st day after the date the System sends a written request for clarification or for information about motor vehicle records as provided above, or if by the 61st day after there is a discussion about narrowing the request, the System does not receive a written response from the requestor, the underlying request for public information is considered withdrawn by the requestor. A written request for clarification or for information about motor vehicle records as provided above, or a discussion about narrowing the request must include a statement as to the consequences of the failure by the requestor to timely respond to the request for clarification.
If the requestor's request for public information included the requestor's physical or mailing address, the request may not be considered withdrawn unless the System sends a written request for clarification or additional information or puts the request to narrow the request in writing and sends it to that address by certified mail.
The above "61st day" condition applies only to public information requests made on or after September 1, 2007.
If the public information officer determines that a requestor has made a request for information for which the System has previously furnished or made copies available to the requestor on payment of applicable charges, the officer shall respond to the request for information for which copies have been already furnished or made available, except that:
Information for which the System has not previously furnished copies or made copies available to the requestor on payment of applicable charges, information that was redacted from information provided earlier, or that did not exist at the time of an earlier request, shall be treated in the same manner as any other request.
The officer shall, free of charge, certify to the requestor that copies of all or part of the requested information were previously furnished or made available to the requestor on payment if applicable charges. The certification must include:
If the System receives a written request for information, including a request by e-mail or fax if sent to the public information officer, it considers to be within one of the exceptions to required disclosure, but for which there has been no previous determination that it falls within one of the exceptions, the System, within the tenth business day after receiving the written request, shall ask for a decision from the attorney general about whether the information is within one of the exceptions. If a decision is not so requested, the information is presumed to be public information.
When the System requests a decision, it shall, within a reasonable time but not later than the 15th business day after the date of receiving the request, submit to the attorney general all of the following:
If the officer fails to supply to the attorney general all of the information that is necessary to render a decision, the attorney general shall give the officer and the requestor written notice of that fact. Upon receipt of such notice, the officer shall submit the necessary additional information to the attorney general not later than the seventh calendar day after the date the notice is received. If the officer does not comply with the attorney general's request for additional information, the information is presumed to be public, unless there is a compelling reason to withhold the information.
In a case in which information is requested and a person's privacy or property rights may be involved, including a case under Gov. Code Secs. 552.101 (confidential by law_), 552.104 (competitive bidding information), and 552.114 (student records); the System may decline to release the information for the purpose of requesting a decision from the attorney general. The System may, but is not required to, submit its reasons as to why the information should be withheld or released.
The officer for public records or the designated agent may require a deposit or bond for payment of anticipated costs for the preparation of public information if the charge for creating the copy would exceed $100 and if the officer has provided the requestor with the required written itemized statement detailing the charge estimate.
The public information officer's agent may require a deposit or bond for payment of unpaid amounts the requestor owes the System in relation to previous public information requests before preparing a copy of public information in response to a new request if those unpaid amounts exceed $100. The officer for public information or the officer's agent may not seek payment of those unpaid amounts through any other means.
For the purposes of charging for providing copies of public information or for requesting an attorney general's opinion, if the System requires a deposit or bond from the requestor, a request for a copy of public information is considered to have been received by the System on the date it receives the deposit or bond for payment of anticipated costs or unpaid amounts. A requestor who fails to make such a deposit or post such a bond before the tenth business day after the date the deposit or bond is required is considered to have withdrawn the request.
The System shall not charge an excessive amount for non-certified photographic reproductions of public records comprised of pages that are legal size or smaller. The System shall use the guidelines for the actual cost of standard size reproduction that are determined and published by the Attorney General in assessing charges for copies of public information.
The cost of obtaining a standard or legal size reproduction shall be an amount that reasonably includes all costs related to reproducing the record, including costs of materials, labor, and overhead, when the request is for more than 50 pages of readily available information.
Public records shall be furnished without charge or at a reduced charge if the Board determines that waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest because furnishing the information primarily benefits the general public or if the cost of processing the collection of a charge will exceed the amount of the charge.
The System may request that it be exempt from part or all of the rules adopted by the Texas Attorney General (AG) for determining charges providing copies of public information. The request must be made in writing to the AG and must state the reason for the exemption. If the AG determines that good cause exists, the AG shall grant the exemption by giving written notice of the determination within 90 days of the request. When it receives notification, the System may amend its charges for providing copies of public information according to the terms of the Attorney General's determination.
The charge for providing a copy of public information shall be an amount that reasonably includes all costs related to reproducing the public information, including costs of materials, labor, and overhead.
If a request is for 50 or fewer pages of paper records, the charge for providing the copy of the public information may not include costs of materials, labor, or overhead, but shall be limited to the per page charge for photocopying, unless the pages to be photocopied are located in more than one building or a remote storage facility.
If the charge for providing a copy of public information exceeds $40, the officer or officer's agent will provide the requestor with a written statement as to the amount of time that will be required to produce and provide the copy. The statement must be signed by the officer or the officer's agent, and the officer or the officer's name must be typed or legibly printed below the signature.
A charge may not be imposed for providing the written statement to the requestor. The System shall also charge for the cost of materials, labor, and overhead when the request is for any number of copies of information that is not readily available.
A System record may be intentionally destroyed under any of the following conditions:
The Board minute books shall not be disposed of or destroyed.
A System record, the subject matter of which is known by the records custodian to be the subject of litigation, shall not be destroyed until the litigation is settled.
A System record that is subject to a request under the Public Information Act or other law or court order shall not be destroyed until the request is resolved.
The Board shall determine a time for which records that are not currently in use will be preserved, subject to any applicable rule or law governing the destruction of other disposition of local government records or public information.
The Board shall preserve the certified agenda or tape recording of a closed session of a Board meeting for at least two years after the date of the meeting. If an action involving the meeting is brought within that period, the certified agenda or tape recording shall be preserved while the action is pending.
The Board or the officer for public information may file suit seeking to withhold information, but the requestor may not be named as a party to that action. The Board or officer for public information must demonstrate to the court that the Board or officer made a timely good faith effort to inform the requestor, by certified mail or other method of written notice that requires the return of a receipt of:
LSCS Policy Manual Section adopted by the Board of Trustees on August 7, 2008
Persons desiring to review information maintained by the System, and classified as Public Information, shall submit their request, in writing, on forms provided by the System or in any other written manner that complies with the Texas Public Information Act. The application shall properly identify the information, to be inspected.
The requestors name and address must be set forth on the application. A picture identification card, such as a driver's license, may be required to verify identity.
Applications shall be handled in the order in which they are received.
In the event the requested documents are in active use, or in storage and, therefore, unavailable at the time the request is submitted, the Public Records Coordinator of the Office of General Counsel or designee shall set forth this fact in writing to the requestor, and set a date and hour when the requested material will be available for inspection.
The System is not required to prepare or create new information requested by a member of the public. The Public Information Act does not require the System to prepare or generate information in the specific form that may be requested by the public.
Persons inspecting information may do so only in a designated inspection area, and a System employee shall be available for assistance.
The Public Records Coordinator of the Office of General Counsel or designee may reasonably limit the number of pages that can be copied and supplied during a person's visit, the reasonable capacity of the available personnel and machines. Copies that cannot be provided during the person's visit will be made and mailed to the requestor in the order in which the request was received.
Documents may be inspected during regular System business hours.
Persons requesting information, in a written form, at a public meeting (Board meeting, hearing or the like) shall be directed to follow the procedures outlined in this policy.
LSCS Policy Manual Section adopted by the Board of Trustees on August 7, 2008
Each College shall produce and make readily available, through appropriate publications and mailings, and electronic media to all current students, and to any prospective student upon request, the completion or graduation rates of certificate- or degree-seeking, full-time students entering the System. The information shall be updated at least biennially.
Each College shall collect information with respect to campus crime statistics and campus security policies. Each College shall prepare, publish and distribute, through appropriate publications or mailings, to all current students and employees, and to any applicant for enrollment or employment upon request, an annual security report as required.
Each College shall make available to the Coordinating Board, upon request, the information required to be reported by the Federal Student Right-To-Know Act and the Campus Security Act for the previous year. The information must be reported in the form required by the Act.
"Discovery" is the process by which relevant information is exchanged between parties in a lawsuit. It is conducted via production of documents and the taking of depositions.
Federal and state courts have long recognized that electronic data is subject to the same discovery rules as other evidence relevant to a lawsuit. The issue has received substantial national attention recently, however, because of a series of court rulings resulting in the imposition of huge sanctions for failure to preserve electronic data and because of amendments to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure scheduled to take effect formally on December 1, 2006. Upon notice that a lawsuit has been commenced against LSCS or one of its employees, or reasonable anticipation that a lawsuit may be brought, LSCS and all employees are now under a legal duty to preserve all evidence, whether hard copy or electronic, that might become relevant to the lawsuit.
The new federal rules requires the suspension of routine or intentional purging, overwriting, re-using, deleting, or any other destruction of electronic information relevant to a dispute, including electronic information wherever it is stored.
This electronic information must be preserved so that it can be retrieved - if necessary - at a later time. The information must be preserved in its original electronic form, so that all information contained within it, whether visible or not, is also available for inspection.
When the Lone Star College System (the "System") "reasonably anticipates" litigation, through the receipt of notification or other information identifying the possibility of a lawsuit or upon the actual service of a summons and complaint ("notification"), the System must take actions to preserve all electronically stored information that may be relevant to the claim.
As soon as practicable after notification, the System's General Counsel ("GC") will notify the Chief Information Officer, and if applicable, the respective College President and the College OTS Director, as well as the individual(s) who may have firsthand knowledge and electronic records for the potential or actual claim.
The Chief Information Officer and the System's Information Technology Department will work with the local College OTS Director to begin the central and local holds and preservation of electronic records, as appropriate.
As soon as practicable, GC, the Chief Information Officer, and local College OTS Director will meet to discuss case and develop an initial course of action.
GC will meet with local representatives (involving Human Resources as appropriate) to discuss immediate needs, identify data unique to the case and to reiterate the need to preserve "paper" data as well.
GC will send specific information handling instructions as may be appropriate in a particular lawsuit to all affected individuals to ensure future data are appropriately preserved and easily retrievable.
Upon receipt of a discovery request for information and data pertaining to a lawsuit subject to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure electronic discovery rules, the System must take action to develop and produce a response to this request.
The GC will work closely with the Chief Technology Officer to develop an appropriate response. The response may be to supply the requested information, attempt to obtain a modification of the request as to a different set of data or search terms, or to decline to provide some or all of the requested data based upon expense, or current retention policy for destruction, or any other basis they see fit.
LSCS Policy Manual Section adopted by the Board of Trustees on August 7, 2008