|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
August 22, 2000
Mr. James E. Lobert
Dear Mr. Lobert:
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# 139209.
The Burleson Independent School District (the "district"), which you represent, received a request for information relating to former district employees. The district claims that the information is excepted from required public disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.102, 552.103, and 552.117 of the Government Code.
Section 552.117 excepts from disclosure the home addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, and family information of current or former officials or employees of a governmental body who request that this information be kept confidential under section 552.024. Therefore, section 552.117 allows you to withhold this information if the individual requested that this information be kept confidential under section 552.024. See Open Records Decision Nos. 622 (1994), 455 (1987). You may not, however, withhold this information if the individual made the request for confidentiality under section 552.024 after this request for information was made. Whether a particular piece of information is public must be determined at the time the request for it is made. See Open Records Decision No. 530 at 5 (1989). To the extent the district's's former employees elected, prior to the date the district's received the request for information, to have their addresses and social security numbers withheld from disclosure, the district's must withhold such information under section 552.117(1).
You have not submitted for our review the information that is responsive to the request. Pursuant to section 552.301(e), a governmental body is required to submit to this office within fifteen business days of receiving an open records request a copy of the specific information requested or representative samples, labeled to indicate which exceptions apply to which parts of the documents. Pursuant to section 552.302 of the Government Code, a governmental body's failure to submit to this office the information required in section 552.301(e) results in the legal presumption that the information is public and must be released. Information that is presumed public must be released unless a governmental body demonstrates a compelling reason to withhold the information to overcome this presumption. See Hancock v. State Bd. of Ins., 797 S.W.2d 379, 381-82 (Tex. App.--Austin 1990, no writ) (governmental body must make compelling demonstration to overcome presumption of openness pursuant to statutory predecessor to Gov't Code § 552.302); Open Records Decision No. 319 (1982). Your claim under section 552.103 does not provide a compelling reason sufficient to overcome the presumption that the information is public. See Open Records Decision No. 551 (1990) (statutory predecessor to section 552.103 serves only to protect a governmental body's position in litigation, and does not itself make information confidential). Further, because you have not submitted the information for our review, we have no basis for finding it confidential. Thus, we have no choice but to order the remaining information released per section 552.302. If you believe the information is confidential and may not lawfully be released, you must challenge the ruling in court as outlined below. We caution that the distribution of confidential information constitutes a criminal offense. Gov't Code § 552.352.
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).
Carla Gay Dickson
Ref: ID# 139209
Encl. Submitted documents
cc: Mr. Kevin Howard