|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
June 26, 2000
Mr. George D. Cato
Dear Mr: Cato:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 136510.
The Texas Department of Health ("TDH") received a request for information regarding an investigation of a licensed professional counselor. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.103 and 552.108 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and have reviewed the submitted information.
The submitted information is governed by a provision outside the Public Information Act, section 501.205(a) of the Occupations Code, which reads, in relevant part as follows:
Except as provided by Subsection (b), a complaint and investigation concerning a license holder and all information and materials compiled by the board in connection with the complaint and investigation are not subject to . . . disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code.
Section 501.205(b) provides exceptions to this confidentiality provision, which do not appear to apply in the instant situation. See Occ. Code § 501.205(b). We conclude that the submitted information is not subject to public disclosure under section 501.205(a) of the Occupations Code. Since section 501.205(a) is dispositive of the information at issue, we do not address your claimed exceptions to disclosure.
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.
Carla Gay Dickson
Ref: ID# 136510
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Andrew L. Drapkin
POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US