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Media Relations

How to Handle Public Records Act Requests

Any HSU department or office that receives a request for University records under the California Public Records Act should refer the request as soon as possible to Paul Mann in Public Affairs at x5105 and psm7001@humboldt.edu.

Prompt notification of Public Affairs is essential because the Public Records Act (PRA) requires the University to acknowledge a request within 10 days, including weekends.

Before acknowledging receipt of a request, Public Affairs will contact your department or office for a preliminary discussion of whether you can gather the records/data/information via "a reasonable search," as provided by law. There is no specified deadline for your department to complete the collection of requested records, but the usual period is 14 to 30 days, depending on the volume of the requested data. Requests apply only to existing records; your office or department is not required to create or compile new records.

Having gathered the data, your department is responsible for forwarding them to Public Affairs, which will review them jointly with the CSU General Counsel's Office in Long Beach to redact any personal or "otherwise privileged information."

When the review and redactions are completed, Public Affairs will forward the data to the requestor, subject to payment in advance of 20 cents per page, both for hard and electronic copies. Your office will be notified when the information is transmitted or shipped.

Frequently Asked Questions

What rights does the law give to the public?

Members of the public have the right to review and inspect public records during regular business hours in your office or department at no charge, subject to agreement on a mutually convenient time and date which will be arranged by Public Affairs. The public also has a right to copies of public records if the requestor pays for duplication in advance. The 20-cents-per-page fee is fixed by the CSU and applies to photocopies up to 8 X 14 inches in size.

Who can request HSU's public records?

Anyone, whether a member of the general public or students, faculty, staff and alumni. The press has the same rights as the public.

In what form may requests be submitted?

Requestors are often encouraged to submit their records request in writing, but this is not required. Legitimate requests can be submitted either verbally or in writing, including by email, telephone or other electronic means.

What records are subject to the law?

Depending on content, affected public records in California include printed and handwritten documents, electronic communications such as emails, photographs and drawings, and computer files kept by HSU. The law does not require HSU to create or compile records that do not already exist. However, the act's general presumption is that most University records are subject to release, unless specifically exempted. Federal law (FERPA — Family Educational Rights and Privacy) guards the privacy of student education records, which typically must be kept confidential. Questions concerning such records should be directed to Student Affairs.

What if my department's records contain a mix of public and non-public or personal information?

The law obligates HSU, in cooperation with the General Counsel's Office, to make the requested records available after redacting (deleting) personal or otherwise privileged information. The General Counsel's Office will review the records for purposes of redaction. The text of the California Public Records Act is available for downloading at: www.cfac.org/Law/CPRA/Text/cpra_text.html.