Washington State University

Public Records

BPPM 90.05:
Release of Public Records
Form: Public Records Request WAC 504-45:
WSU Public Records


Public Records -- Frequently Asked Questions


What are public records?


Public records:
  • Include any writing in virtually any form, including, but not limited to, electronic media, paper, e-mail, microfilm, videotape, magnetic tape, and disks (CDs); and
  • Contain information relating to the conduct of University business or the performance of any University governmental or proprietary function; and
  • Are prepared, owned, used, or retained by the University.

What is a valid public records request?

  • It is a request from a member of the public for University records that meet the definition of a public record.
  • It is not a request from a University department or employee acting in an official University capacity. An employee acting on his or her own behalf and not on behalf of the University may submit a public records request. If this is the case, University resources must not be used to make the request.

How does one make a request?

  • A request should be made, in writing preferably, on the form available at:
    http://public.wsu.edu/~forms/PUBPDF/90-05-9.pdf
  • A request must seek an "identifiable record." This means that the requester must tell the University how to identify the records requested and, if possible, where at WSU the records can be found.
  • If the request is not clear, the University may request clarification. If the requester fails to clarify, the University need not continue processing the request.
  • Only existing identifiable records are public records. The law does not require the creation of new records to respond to a public records request.

To whom should a request be made?


The request should be provided to the Office of Public Records, Info Tech Bldg 3011, 3013 and 3015, Mail Code 1225, Pullman, WA 99164-1225; PHONE 509-335-3928, FAX 509-335-3930; E-mail wsu.pubrecords@wsu.edu.

Must all University records be provided without deletions?


No. The law provides that certain records are exempt from public disclosure. Just a few examples follow, but refer to the public records law for more exemptions at:
http://apps.leg.wa.gov/RCW/default.aspx?cite=42.56.
  • Social security numbers.
  • Lists of individuals requested for commercial purposes.
  • Medical records of University personnel.
  • Unsuccessful applicants' applications for public employment, including the names of applicants, resumes, and other related materials submitted by applicant.
  • Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer any examination.
  • Student education records as provided under the FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
  • Library information about library users.
  • Credit and debit card numbers, account numbers, expiration dates, and personal financial data.

What is the University's response time?


Once the Public Records Office receives a request, it responds within five business days.

The response consists of one of the following actions:

  • Release of the records.
  • Denial of the request.
  • Request for clarification.
  • Providing an acknowledgment and a time estimate for when the University believes it might be able to provide the records. This time period is subject to change depending on the difficulties and size of the public records request.

Is a public records request confidential?


No. Once a public records request is received, it becomes a public record of the University. When records are gathered to fulfill a request, the records may contain the names of employees, students or third parties. The University may notify individuals regarding disclosure of records that contain their name or other identifiers. Requestors should be aware that such notices typically include the name of the requestor and/or a copy of the request.

Are there costs connected with a public records request?

  • No, if the requester only wants to view the requested records. The Public Records Request form has a box one can check if this is the requester's choice. During inspection of the records, University personnel will be present with a person who views the records to insure protection of the records and to maintain the order of the records.
  • Yes, if the requester wants a copy of requested paper records. WSU charges a 15-cents per page fee for copying or scanning paper records. WSU may also charge for the costs of mailing records to the requester.

Can an employee make a public records request for his or her personnel file?


The law provides that employees can view their own personnel records. They should contact University Human Resource Services if they wish to do so. An employee should not submit a public records request to view his or her own personnel file. See BPPM 90.07.

Can a student make a public records request for his or her own student education records?


Students have the right to view their own student education records. They should contact the University Registrar's Office if they wish to do so. A student should not submit a public records request to view his or her own personal student education records. See BPPM 90.06.

Should a University department that wants information or documents from another University department go through the Public Records Office for those records?


University departments are not the public and should not use a public records request as a method to obtain assistance from another University department. Official University business should be a direct transaction between the departments involved.

Do you still have questions about the public records process?


If so, please contact the Public Records Office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. on regular University workdays. You may telephone the Public Records Coordinator, Stephanie Kalasz, at 509-335-3928. We will try to help you.
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Office of Public Records, Info Tech Bldg 3011,3013 and 3015, Mail Code 1225, Pullman, WA 99164-1225; 509-335-3928; Email wsu.pubrecords@wsu.edu.