|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
October 31, 2000
Ms. Sherry L. Lee
Dear Ms. Lee:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 142569.
The Texas Board of Examiners of Psychologists (the "board") received a request for any materials regarding a complaint proceeding filed against a licensed psychologist including the complaint/accusation, findings of fact, conclusions of law, and order or other document showing final disposition of the matter. In your letter to the requestor, you state that you are enclosing the agreed order. However, you claim that the complaint is excepted from disclosure under section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 501.205(a) of the Occupations Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.101 of the Act excepts from required public disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision." This provision encompasses information made confidential by statutes such as section 501.205 of the Occupations Code. Chapter 501 of the Occupations Code codifies the Psychologists' Licensing Act. See Occ. Code § 501.001, et seq. Section 501.205(a) provides, in relevant part, that "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[.]" Subsection (b) of section 501.205 provides as follows:
A complaint or investigation subject to Subsection (a) and all information and materials compiled by the board in connection with the complaint may be disclosed to:
(1) the board and board employees or agents involved in license holder discipline;
(2) a party to a disciplinary action against the license holder or that party's designated representative;
(3) a law enforcement agency if required by law;
(4) a governmental agency, if:
(A) the disclosure is required or permitted by law; and
(B) the agency obtaining the disclosure protects the identity of any patient whose records are examined; or
(5) a legislative committee or committee staff directed to make an inquiry regarding state hospitals or schools, by either house of the legislature, the presiding officer of either house of the legislature, or the chairman of the legislative committee if the information or records that identify a patient or client are not released for any purpose unless the patient consents and the records are created by the state hospital or school or its employees.
You assert that the requestor does not fall into one of the five exceptions, and, therefore, "the information contained in a complaint investigation file cannot be released as a matter of law." We agree that the submitted complaint is confidential pursuant to section 552.101 of the Government Code in conjunction with section 501.205(a) of the Occupations Code. Therefore, you must withhold the submitted information.
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).
Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to the General Services Commission at 512/475-2497.
Ref: ID# 142569
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Ms. Sharon Rodriguez