|Office of the Attorney General - State of Texas
February 10, 1999
Robin Wuebker-Battershell, Ed.D.
Dear Ms. Wuebker-Battershell:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Texas Open Records Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 121903.
The Salado Independent School District (the "district") received a request for information related to expenditures for legal services. You ask if the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.107 of the Government Code.(1)
Pursuant to section 552.301(b), a governmental body is required to submit to this office (1) general written comments stating the reasons why the stated exceptions apply that would allow the information to be withheld, (2) a copy of the written request for information, and (3) a copy of the specific information requested or representative samples, labeled to indicate which exceptions apply to which parts of the documents. You did not, however, submit to this office any of the information required by section 552.301(b).
Pursuant to section 552.303(c) of the Government Code, this office notified you by letter dated January 16, 1999, that you had failed to submit the information required by section 552.301(b). We requested that you provide this information to our office within seven days from the date of receiving the notice. The notice further stated that under section 552.303(e) failure to comply would result in the legal presumption that the information at issue is public information.
You did not provide our office with the information that was requested. Therefore, as provided by section 552.303(e), the information that is the subject of this request for information is presumed to be public information. Information that is presumed public must be released unless a governmental body demonstrates a compelling interest 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). In the absence of a demonstration that the information is confidential by law or that other compelling reasons exist as to why the information should not be made public, you must release the information. Open Records Decision No. 195 (1978).(2) You have not raised any specific compelling reasons to overcome the presumption that the information is public. Thus, we conclude that the information must be released to the requestor.
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 on as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have any questions regarding this ruling, please contact our office.
Yours very truly,
Ruth H. Soucy
Ref.: ID# 121903
1. Your request for a decision states: "We are asking not to release this specific information due to Client Attorney Privilege." We assume that you intended to raise section 552.107 of the Government Code as an exception to public disclosure of the information.
2. We note that the distribution of confidential information is a criminal offense. Gov't Code § 552.352.
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