|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
January 13, 2000
Ms. Ann Simmons, President
Dear Ms. Simmons:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 131506.
The Galveston Independent School District (the "district") received a written request for, among other things, "the evaluations of GISD Supt. Henry Boening done by the school board during the months on Dec. 1998 - Jan. 1999." You contend that the information at issue is made confidential under section 21.355 of the Education Code and thus must be withheld from the public pursuant to section 552.101 of the Government Code.(1)
Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." This section encompasses information made confidential by other statutes. Section 21.355 of the Education Code provides that "[a]ny document evaluating the performance of a teacher or administrator is confidential." This office has interpreted this section to apply to any document that evaluates, as that term is commonly understood, the performance of a teacher or administrator. Open Records Decision No. 643 (1996). In that opinion, this office also concluded that an "administrator" is someone who is required to hold and does hold a certificate or permit required under chapter 21 of the Education Code and is performing the functions of an administrator at the time of his or her evaluation. Id. at 4. Assuming the superintendent in question held such a certificate or permit at the time of the evaluations at issue, we conclude that the release of the requested performance evaluations are governed by section 21.355 of the Education Code and accordingly must be withheld from the public.
This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.
This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code § 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. § 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. § 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. § 552.321(a).
If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. § 552.3215(e).
If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. § 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.-Austin 1992, no writ).
If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.
Ref.: ID# 131506
cc: Mr. Rudy Gonzales
1. The requestor also seeks the superintendent's current salary "including all benefits." Because you do not argue that this information is excepted from public disclosure, we assume the district has made this information available to the requestor. See Gov't Code § 552.302.
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