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August 30, 1999

Mr. Dennis P. Duffy
General Counsel
University of Houston System
E. Cullen Building, Suite 311
Houston, Texas 77204-2162

OR99-2439

Dear Mr. Duffy:

On behalf of the University of Houston, the University of Houston - Clear Lake, the University of Houston - Downtown, and the University of Houston - Victoria (collectively, the "universities"), 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# 126994.

Each of the universities received a request for the following information:

(1) All public records relating to the number of minority students admitted to your institution from 1991 to 1999 . . . .

(2) Also, please provide me with any "in-house" reports or memorandum concerning minority admissions in your custody that your institution may have conducted or drafted from 1996 to 1999. In particular, I am requesting those documents which detail your institution's response to the "Hopwood" litigation and steps discussed by persons affiliated with the institution to address minority admissions following Hopwood.

(3) All public records related to the number of minority students who enrolled in your institution from 1991 to 1998, year-by-year, and are expected to enroll in 1999 . . . .

You state that demographic information responsive to items 1 and 3 of the request is being provided to the requestor. You contend that some of the information responsive to item 2 of the request is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.107 and 552.111 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed a representative sample of the documents at issue.(1)

Section 552.107(1) of the Government Code protects information coming within the attorney-client privilege. In instances where an attorney represents a governmental entity, the attorney-client privilege protects only an attorney's legal advice and the client's confidences communicated to the attorney. See Open Records Decision No. 574 (1990). Accordingly, these two classes of information are the only information contained in the submitted documents that may be withheld pursuant to section 552.107. We have marked the documents accordingly.

Section 552.111 excepts from disclosure "an interagency or intraagency memorandum or letter that would not be available by law to a party in litigation with the agency." In Open Records Decision No. 615 (1993), this office reexamined the predecessor to the section 552.111 exception in light of the decision in Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408 (Tex. App.--Austin 1992, no writ), and held that section 552.111 excepts only those internal communications consisting of advice, recommendations, opinions, and other material reflecting the policymaking processes of the governmental body. An agency's policymaking functions do not encompass internal administrative or personnel matters; disclosure of information relating to such matters will not inhibit free discussion among agency personnel as to policy issues. ORD 615 at 5-6. Additionally, section 552.111 does not generally except from disclosure purely factual information that is severable from the opinion portions of internal memoranda. ORD 615 at 4-5. We have marked the information in the submitted documents that may be withheld pursuant to section 552.111. The universities must release to the requestor all information not excepted from disclosure under section 552.107 or section 552.111.

We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.

Sincerely,

Karen E. Hattaway
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

KEH/ch

Ref: ID# 126994

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Matt Holder
Texas Civil Rights Project
2212 East Martin Luther King Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78702-1344
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. We assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). This open records letter does not reach, and therefore does not authorize the withholding of, any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than that submitted to this office.
 

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