Governor Edward G. Rendell signed the new Right to Know law on February 14, 2008 fundamentally changing the way people access public records of their government, and the way government processes those requests. The new law created the Office of Open Records to help implement and enforce Act 3 of 2008. A significant role of the Office of Open Records is to provide guidance for the new law, which fully takes effect January 1, 2009. You can visit the Office of Open Records by clicking on the following link: http://openrecords.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?
The new Right to Know law can be downloaded by clicking this link: Right to Know Law
The law requires that each Agency appoint a Right-to-Know Officer (RTK Officer). The RTK Officer has four tasks required by law:
- Receive requests submitted to the agency
- Direct requests to other appropriate persons within the agency or to appropriate persons in another agency
- Track the agency’s progress in responding to requests
- Issue interim and final responses under this act
The Athens Area School District has appointed, Ms. Nancy Russell, as the Right to Know Officer.
To file a Right to Know request for information, you must fill out the request for information form, which you can download by clicking the following: Right To Know Request Form
If you have any questions, you can contact Ms. Russell using one of the following methods:
- Phone - 570-888-7766 ext. 4347
- Fax - 570-882-6250
- Address - Athens Area School District, 100 Canal Street, Athens, PA 18810
The Athens Area School District, in accordance with the Right to Know Law, will assess the following fee schedule when fulfilling Right to Know Requests:
| RECORD TYPE||FEE |
|Copies: (A "photocopy" is either a single-sided copy or one side of a double-sided black-and-white copy of a standard 8.5" x 11" page)||.25 per page for a single sided copy. |
|Certification of a Record: ||$1 per record, not per page. Please note that certification fees do not include notarization fees. |
|Specialized documents: For example, but not limited to, blue prints, color copies, non-standard sized documents. ||Actual cost|
|Facsimile/Microfiche/Other Media: ||Actual cost |
|Redaction Fee:||No Redaction Fee may be imposed |
|Conversion to Paper: ||If a record is only maintained electronically or in other non-paper media, duplication fees shall be limited to the lesser of the fee for duplication on paper or the fee for duplication in the original media unless the requester specifically requests for the record to be duplicated in the more expensive medium. (Sec. 1307(e)).|
|Postage Fees:||Fees for postage may not exceed the actual cost of mailing. |
Please Also Be Advised:
- Statutory Fees: If a separate statute authorizes an agency to charge a set amount for a certain type of record, the agency may charge no more than that statutory amount. For example, a Recorder of Deeds may charge a copy fee of 50 cents per uncertified page and $1.50 per certified page under 42 P.S. § 21051. Police departments have the authority to charge up to $15 per report for providing a copy of a vehicle accident report. 75 Pa.C.S. §3751 (b)(2). Philadelphia police may charge up to $25 per copy. Id . at (b)(3). State police are authorized to charge $5 for each copy of the Pennsylvania State Police full report of investigation. 75 Pa.C.S. §1956(b).
- Inspection of Redacted Records: If a requester wishes to inspect rather than receive a copy of a record and the record contains both public and non-public information, the agency shall redact the non-public information. An agency may not charge the requester for the redaction. However, the Agency may charge for the copies it must make of the redacted material in order for the requester to view the public record. The fee structure outlined above will apply. If, after inspecting the records, the requester chooses to obtain the copies, no additional fee may be charged.
- Enhanced Electronic Access: If an agency offers enhanced electronic access to records in addition to making the records accessible for inspection and duplication by a requester, the agency may establish user fees specifically for the provision of the enhanced electronic access, but only to the extent that the enhanced electronic access is in addition to making the records accessible for inspection and duplication by a requester as required by this Act. The user fees for enhanced electronic access may be a flat rate, a subscription fee for a period of time, a per-transaction fee, a fee based on the cumulative time of system access or any other reasonable method and any combination thereof. The user fees for enhanced electronic access must be reasonable, must be pre-approved by the Office of Open Records and shall not be established with the intent or effect of excluding persons from access to records or duplicates thereof or of creating profit for the agency. Please submit any request to:
Office of Open Records
400 North Street
Harrisburg, PA. 17120
- Fee Limitations: Except as otherwise provided by statute, the law states that no other fees may be imposed unless the agency necessarily incurs costs for complying with the request, and such fees must be reasonable. No fee may be imposed for an agency's review of a record to determine whether the record is a public record, legislative record or financial record subject to access in accordance with this Act. No fee may be charged for searching for or retrieval of documents. An agency may not charge staff time or salary for complying with a RTK request.
- Prepayment: Prior to granting a request for access in accordance with this Act, an agency may require a requester to prepay an estimate of the fees authorized under this section if the fees required to fulfill the request are expected to exceed $100.
Once the request is fulfilled and prepared for release, the Office of Open Records recommends that the agency obtain the cost of the records prior to releasing the records. This recommendation is designed to avoid situations in which the agency provides the records and the requester fails to submit payment.