Right to Know Law Policy - PDE
to Section 504 of the Right-to-Know Law, 65 P.S. §67.101 et seq. (RTKL), the
Pennsylvania Department of Education ("Agency") or ("PDE")
sets forth the following policies, process, and procedures, regarding responses
by the Agency to requests made pursuant to the RTKL, in addition to complying
with the policies set forth in Management Directive 205.36.
addition, to facilitate access to documents of public interest and reduce the
need for RTKL requests, the Agency makes many documents public.
the Department of General
Services publishes many solicitations, awards, and contracts on its website.
Find uploads of certain
state contracts on the Pennsylvania Department of Treasury website,
pursuant to the requirements of Chapter 17 of the RTKL, 65 P.S.§§67.1701-1702.
- A written request to
the Agency under the RTKL must:
- Be addressed to the Agency Open
Records Officer ("AORO"):
Agency Open Records Officer
Department of Education
333 Market St., 15th Floor
(717) 772-2317 (Fax)
- Identify a name and address
to which the agency should address its response;
- State that the request is
being made pursuant to the RTKL;
- Be submitted in person, by
email or by facsimile;
- Be sufficiently specific to
enable the Agency to ascertain which records are
being requested; and
- Be from a person that is a
legal resident of the United States.
- While verbal requests
may be fulfilled by the Agency, the requester cannot pursue the relief and remedies provided
under the RTKL unless the request is in writing.
- RTKL requests may be on
the form available at the website of the Office of Open Records (attached as Appendix
"A"), at: http://openrecords.state.pa.us.
- The regular business
hours of the RTKL Office are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Any RTKL request
received by the RTKL Office after
the close of regular business hours
shall be deemed to have been received by
that office on the following business
- RTKL requests received
by the Agency will be considered "public record"
information by the Agency and such
requests may be made available for public
access through its website.
The AORO may respond by providing a requester
with access to inspect a record electronically or as otherwise maintained by the
Unless a longer period of time is needed and
communicated to the requester by an "interim response" (as discussed in
paragraph A below), the RTKL requires that the Agency respond to an RTKL request
within five business days. For purposes of determining the end of the five
business day period, the day that a RTKL request is received is not counted.
The first day of the five business day period is the Agency's next business day.
- By providing access in the offices of the
- By sending a copy to the requester or
- By notifying the requester that the record is
available through publicly accessible electronic means. Each of these
options is a "response"
for purposes of the RTKL, as is the Agency's
written notice to the
requester granting, denying or
partially granting and partially denying
access to a record. The Agency may send
written responses to
requesters by United States mail, by hand
(in person or by delivery
service), by facsimile or by email.
- Interim Responses
The Agency must provide a final response to a
RTKL request within five business days unless one or more specific conditions
are satisfied and the AORO gives the
requester written notice that additional time
will be required. That notice is referred to as an "interim response."
The AORO may send an interim response if any
of the following apply:
- The RTKL request requires redaction of a
- The RTKL request requires retrieval of a
record from a remote location;
- A response within the five business day
period cannot be accomplished due to bona fide staffing limitations, which
limitations must be specified in the
- A legal review is necessary to determine
whether the record requested is subject to access under the Act;
- The requester has not complied with the
Agency's policies regarding access to public records;
- The requester has not complied with a demand
for prepayment of fees, which are required to fulfill the RTKL
request and which are estimated to
exceed $100; further, if prepayment of fees
is required by the Agency, the time period for response shall be
tolled from the time the demand for payment is made until such time as
payment is actually received; or
- The extent or nature of the request precludes
a response within the required time period.
An interim response must:
- Be sent to the requester on or before
the last day of the five business day
- State that the request is being
reviewed and the reason for the review;
- Give an estimate of applicable fees
owed when the record becomes
- State a reasonable date that a
response is expected to be provided. This
date must not be more than 30
calendar days from the end of the five
business day period.
If the date of an expected response is in
excess of 30 days following the five days allowed for in Section 901, the request will
be deemed denied unless the requester
has agreed in writing to the date specified
in the notice.
- Final Responses
There are three possible final responses.
Either the request is: 1. granted;
2. denied; or 3. granted in part and denied in
part. The failure to make a timely
response is deemed to be a denial.
If a written request is denied in whole or in
part, the Agency will issue a final
written response that will include an
explanation of the procedure for the requester
to appeal, if the requester chooses to do so.
The written denial will also set forth
the specific reasons for the denial,
including a citation of supporting legal authority.
If the denial is the result of a
determination that that the record requested is
exempt from disclosure, the specific reasons
for the Agency's determination shall be
The Agency will not deny access to a record
based upon the fact that portions of the record are not public records and, as a
result, not subject to disclosure. The
Agency will redact the portions that are not
public records and produce the
portions that are public records.
The Agency may provide a requester with
access to inspect a record electronically or as otherwise maintained by the Agency,
either: 1) by providing access in the offices of the Agency, 2) by sending a copy
to the requester or 3) by notifying the
requester that the record is available
through publicly accessible electronic means.
The Agency has the discretion to determine
the building(s) and room(s) that will be used to provide a requester with access to
the Agency's public records. The selection of buildings and rooms for access
to the Agency's public records is a
matter within the discretion of the AORO.
The Agency will provide a public record to a
requester in the medium requested if the record exists in that medium. Otherwise,
the public record must be provided in the medium in which it exists. If a public
record only exists in one medium, the agency is not required to convert that public
record to another medium, except
that if the public record is only available
in an electronic form, the agency must
print it out on paper if the requester so
The Agency is not required to create a public
record that does not already exist, nor is it required to compile, maintain,
format or organize a public record in a
manner in which the Agency does not currently
- Duplication of Public
The Agency may either make copies itself or,
in its discretion, allow the requester to bring the necessary equipment to make its
own copies. The Agency may make its duplication equipment available to a
requester but require that the requester
operate the equipment; assign Agency staff to
make the duplications or contract
for duplication services and require the
requester to pay the applicable rate.
When a request is denied or deemed denied,
whether in whole or in part, the requester may file an appeal with the Office of Open
Records, where it will be assigned to an Appeals Officer. This appeal must be filed within
15 business days of the denial or deemed denial. The appeal must state the
grounds upon which the requester asserts that the record is public, and should address any
grounds stated by the agency for delaying or denying the request. The appeal shall
be sent to:
The Commonwealth Office of Open Records
Commonwealth Keystone Building
400 North Street, Plaza Level
Harrisburg, PA 17120-0225
A person other than the Agency or the
requester, with a direct interest in the
record that is subject to an appeal, has
15 days following actual knowledge of the
appeal, but no later than the date the
Appeals Officer issues an order, to file a
written request to provide information or
to appear before the Appeals Officer in
support of the requester's or the
agency's position in the appeal. The Appeals
Officer may, but needs not, grant the
For further information on appeals, it is
suggested that the requester review the website of the Office of Open Records.
Applicable fees to be charged by the Agency under
the RTKL are as follows:
- Fees Determined by the Office of
Under the RTKL, the Office of Open Records
has the authority to establish two
fees for Commonwealth agencies: Duplication,
65 P.S. §67.1307(b) and Enhanced
Electronic Access (an agency may establish
user fees, subject to approval by the
Office of Open Records), 65 P.S. §67.1307
The fees for duplication are established by
the Office of Open Records, as posted on its website at http://openrecords.state.pa.us. PDE will charge a maximum of $.25 per page for duplication and currently
does not have a fee for enhanced
- Specialized Fees
- PDE will charge $1 per copy for certified
copies, when requested by the requester.
- PDE will charge the actual cost for
postage, facsimile/microfiche or other media, as well as for specialized
- Special rules apply to fees for
transcripts of administrative proceedings:
- Prior to an adjudication becoming "final, binding
transcripts may be requested through an agency, however the
stenographer or court reporter is permitted to charge the regular fee
for this service.
- Following an adjudication becoming "final, binding and non-appealable,"
a request for the transcript shall be treated like any other request for
a record and the usual duplication fee of up to $.25 per page will be
- Reasonable and Necessarily Incurred Costs
expressly provided by 65 P.S. §67.1307(g), PDE has the authority to charge
requesters reasonable fees for necessarily incurred costs. PDE will determine
such fees on a case by case basis.
No charge shall be made for agency or legal
review of the record to see whether the requested records are public records that
are subject to production. If the estimated fees that are required to
fulfill the RTKL request exceed $100,
it may be necessary for the requester to pay
the estimated amount in advance,
either by certified check or by ordinary
check, which must first have cleared to
be considered received by PDE. The demand
for prepayment may specify a
reasonable period of time in which
the requester must make such prepayment.
If the requester fails to make prepayment
within the specified time, PDE is not required to produce the records requested.
All applicable fees must be paid in order to
receive access to the record requested. 65 P.S. §67.901.