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October 1, 1999

Mr. Miles K. Risley
Senior Assistant City Attorney
City of Victoria
P.O. Box 1758
Victoria, Texas 77902-1758

OR99-2790

Dear Mr. Risley:

You have asked whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act (the "act"), chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 127750.

The City of Victoria (the "city") received a request for a specified offense report, identified as case number 98-22295. In response to the request, you submit to this office for review the information which you assert is responsive. You assert that the records at issue are protected from disclosure under chapter 261 of the Family Code and section 552.101 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception and arguments you raise and have reviewed the information submitted.

Section 552.101 of the Government Code excepts from disclosure "information considered to be confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision," including information made confidential by statute. Section 261.201 of the Family Code reads in part as follows:

(a) The following information is confidential, is not subject to public release under Chapter 552, Government Code, and may be disclosed only for purposes consistent with this code and applicable federal or state law or under rules adopted by an investigating agency:

(1) a report of alleged or suspected abuse or neglect made under this chapter and the identity of the person making the report; and

(2) except as otherwise provided in this section, the files, reports, records, communications, audiotapes, videotapes, and working papers used or developed in an investigation under this chapter or in providing services as a result of an investigation.

We believe that the requested information consists of reports, records, and working papers used or developed in an investigation made under chapter 261 of the Family Code. Because you have not cited any specific rule that the investigating agency has adopted with regard to the release of this type of information, we assume that no such regulation exists. Given that assumption, the requested information is confidential pursuant to section 261.201 of the Family Code. See Open Records Decision No. 440 at 2 (1986) (construing predecessor statute). Thus, the submitted information may be disclosed only for purposes consistent with the Family Code and applicable federal or state law or under rules adopted by the Victoria Police Department, which is the agency that investigated the incidents.(1)

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,

Sam Haddad
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

SH/nc

Ref.: ID# 127750

Encl: Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Tammy Palmer
1802 Meadowlane
Victoria, Texas 77901
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. We note that if the investigation has been referred to the Department of Protective and Regulatory Services (the "department"), a parent who is a requestor may be entitled to access to the department's records. Section 261.201(f) of the Family Code provides that the department, upon request and subject to its own rules:

shall provide to the parent, managing conservator, or other legal representative of a child who is the subject of reported abuse or neglect information concerning the reported abuse or neglect that would otherwise be confidential under this section if the department has edited the information to protect the confidentiality of the identity of the person who made the report and any other person whose life or safety may be endangered by the disclosure.

Fam. Code 261.201(f).
 

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