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FOIA

Freedom of Information Act

The Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is designed to ensure that Illinois residents can obtain information about their government. Beginning on January 1, 2010, key changes to the Freedom of Information Act are in effect and will provide Illinois residents with a more open and accountable government. The Office of the Attorney General provides a web site that serves as the definitive resource regarding the Freedom of Information Act in Illinois.

Legislative Intent (excerpted from 5 ILCS 140/1)

The Illinois General Assembly, in enacting this legislation, declared that the Freedom of Information Act is not intended to cause an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, nor to allow the requests of a commercial enterprise to unduly burden public resources, or to disrupt the duly undertaken work of any public body independent of the fulfillment of any of the rights of the people to access information. Neither is the Act intended to create an obligation on the part of any public body to maintain or prepare any public record which was not maintained or prepared by such public body at the time when this Act becomes effective, except as otherwise required by applicable local, State or federal law.

The duties and responsibilities of the Regional Superintendent of Schools are codified in Article 3 of the Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/3)

The Regional Superintendent of Schools is the chief administrative officer of a Regional Office of Education, and is the only elected educational administrative officer in Illinois. As an intermediate agency between the Illinois State Board of Education and local school districts, the Office of the Regional Superintendent performs regulatory functions as directed by the Illinois School Code. The Code states that “the Regional Superintendent of Schools:

… shall exercise supervision and control over all school districts in the region.

… shall act as the official advisor and assistant of the school officers and teachers in his region. In the performance of this duty he shall carry out the advice of the State Superintendent of Education.”

In addition to coordinating and delivering state and local services, the Regional Superintendent acts as an advocate for education by providing positive leadership and disseminating information for educators, school districts and the public. Specific duties of the Regional Superintendent are stated in the School Code and can be summarized in two major areas, service and assurance to the public.

Service components include the dissemination of information on education legislation, legal issues, cooperative management, research and administration. The Regional Superintendent also provides information to citizens about state and local programs that will help meet the needs of their children. Each service component requires specific skills placing the Regional Superintendent as an intermediate agent who brings together people, concepts and resources to provide educational services.

Assurances to the public cover areas such as fiscal responsibilities, local school performances, life safety, certification, supervision and curriculum. In these areas legislation places enforcement responsibilities on the Regional Superintendent to guarantee that certain minimums are met and legal parameters followed.

During the course of the school year, the Regional Superintendent and his staff receive numerous telephone calls, letters and visits from parents, school personnel, and citizens concerning a multitude of educational concerns. It is the policy of the Regional Superintendent to give prompt service and accurate information to any individual or group seeking assistance.

Documents Immediately Provided

The following documents or categories of records are immediately available:

Regional Office of Education:
Federal and State Grant Awards
Annual Financial Report
Annual Budget
Annual Audit
Bus Driver Initial Course Records
Bus Driver Refresher Course Records
Contracts
Health Life Safety Amendments
Health Life Safety Annual Inspection Reports
Health Life Safety Building and Occupancy Permits
Institute Fund Report
Workshops Offered

Regional Board of School Trustees:
Agendas of Regular and Special Meetings
Minutes of Regular and Special Meetings

FOIA Officer

A FOIA Officer is a person appointed by a public body. The FOIA officer’s responsibility is to receive FOIA requests from the public and to send responses in compliance with FOIA. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires that all public bodies designate one or more officials or employees to act as a Freedom of Information Act Officer (FOIA Officer). These FOIA Officers (or their designees) shall receive requests for records, ensure that the public body responds to the requests in a timely fashion, and issue responses under FOIA. (5 ILCS 140/3.5(a)

The purpose of the Freedom of Information Act is to ensure that all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government, and the official acts and policies of those who represent them as public officials.

The principle mandate of the Act provides that each public body shall make available to any person for inspection, or upon submission of a written request, to provide copies of any requested records that are subject to disclosure under the Act. Not all records are subject to disclosure, and the Act provides a number of exemptions.

This Act is not intended to be used to violate individual privacy, nor for the purpose of furthering a commercial enterprise, or to disrupt the duly-undertaken work of any public body independent of the fulfillment of any of the rights of the people to access to information (5 ILCS 140/1). The Act does not require the County to create new records or to answer questions other than through the production of records.
Making a FOIA Request

All requests shall be in writing to the FOIA Officer and will be responded to within five(5) working days (5 ILCS/140) following the date the request is received. The five (5) day count begins the day after the receipt of the FOIA request by the Department Head, or designee. The requester may be notified of a five (5) day extension (working days) if the files are voluminous, at different locations, or if other reasons make it impossible to assemble and mail the request out within the normal five (5) day period.

 

Mail all requests to:

Phil Morris, FOIA Officer

Kane County Regional Office of Education

28 North First Street, South Tower

Geneva, IL 60134

 

How to Submit a Request:

The Office of the Attorney General recommends the following procedure:

If you would like to obtain information from a public body, you should begin by writing down a list of the information you are seeking. Then prepare a letter to that public body’s office. If you are not sure to whom to address the letter, contact the public body’s main office and request the contact information for the FOIA officer.

Your letter should include your name, your address, the date and a daytime phone number so that the public body can contact you if they have any questions. Describe the information you are seeking with sufficient detail so that the public body can find the requested records. Providing as much information as possible in your request on the subject matter may expedite the public body’s search process.

You do not need to describe the document specifically and accurately by the same name the public body uses. As long as the public body understands what is being requested, they must release that information, even if the requester does not call it by the same name the public body uses.

Public bodies cannot require that the public submit FOIA requests on a specific form or in a specific format. Public bodies, however, can require that FOIA requests be submitted in writing. Public bodies must accept requests by mail, personal delivery, fax, e-mail, or other means available to the public body. Public bodies may accept oral FOIA requests but are not required to do so.

Additionally, each public body must develop and make available upon request a list of documents that the public body will immediately provide to a requester. Each public body also must maintain a reasonably current list of all types or categories of records under its control, and the list should be reasonably detailed in order to aid persons in obtaining access to public records. This list must be available for inspection and copying.

Denial of FOIA Requests

The ROE will provide available information when requested by the public. Information provided or denied under the FOIA, however, must conform to the legal requirements under the Act. It may also be denied if it falls within a category under Sec. 3 of the Freedom of Information Act.

When the ROE denies a request for public records, the ROE must, within five (5) working days, or within any extended compliance period provided for in the Act, notify the person who made the request, by letter, of the decision to deny the request. The letter must explain the reasons for the denial, and give the names and titles of all persons responsible for the denial.

Please be as specific as possible when describing the records you are seeking. Remember, the Freedom of Information Act is designed to allow you to inspect or receive copies of records. It is not designed to require a public body to answer questions. To the extent that you wish to ask questions of a representative of the Regional Office of Education, you may call our Kane County Office at (6300-444-3092.

Please tell us whether you would like copies of the requested records, or whether you wish to examine the records in person. You have the right to either option.

Fees:

There is no fee for up to 50 pages of standard paper copies. For pages beyond 50, there is a .15-cent-per-page charge.

You are permitted to ask for a waiver of copying fees. To do so, please include the following statement (or a similar statement) in your written FOIA request: “I request a waiver of all fees associated with this request.” In addition, you must include a specific explanation as to why your request for information is in the public interest – not simply your personal interest – and merits a fee waiver.

Please include your name, preferred telephone number(s), mailing address, and, if you wish, your electronic mail address.

FOIA requestors may have to pay fees covering some or all of the costs of reproducing their request. If a fee is due, you will be contacted on the cost, which must be paid prior to receiving the documents.

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