Cornyn Open Records Letter Ruling February 18, 2000
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John Cornyn
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February 18, 2000

Mr. John Leonard, Ed.D
Assistant Superintendent Human Resources/Facilities
Longview Independent School District
P.O. Box 3268
Longview, Texas 75606

OR2000-0616

Dear Mr. Leonard:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 133568.

Longview Independent School District received a request for "[a] copy of the resumes that have been received for the position of athletic director/head football coach at Longview High School and the position of boy's varsity basketball coach at Longview High School." You seek to withhold the requested information under section 552.102 of the Government Code.

You contend that the release of the information responsive to the request would constitute a "clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy" under section 552.102. Section 552.102(a) protects

information in a personnel file, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, except that all information in the personnel file of an employee of a governmental body is to be made available to that employee or the employee's designated representative as public information is made available under this chapter.

Section 552.102(a) is designed to protect public employees' personal privacy. The scope of section 552.102(a) protection, however, is very narrow. See Open Records Decision No. 336 (1982). See also Attorney General Opinion JM-36 (1983). The test for section 552.102(a) protection is the same as that for information protected by common-law privacy under section 552.101: the information must contain highly intimate or embarrassing facts about a person's private affairs such that its release would be highly objectionable to a reasonable person and the information must be of no legitimate concern to the public. Hubert v. Harte-Hanks Texas Newspapers, Inc., 652 S.W.2d 546, 550 (Tex. App.--Austin 1983, writ ref'd n.r.e.).

In the first place the information at issue here does not appear to be information in "a personnel file" within the meaning of the section 552.102. Moreover, the information does not, in our opinion, implicate common law privacy interests because it is not highly intimate and embarrassing, and also there is a legitimate public interest in the information. Open Records Decision Nos. 315 (1982); 298, 284, 269 (1981); 224 (1979); 169 (1977). Therefore, the requested information may not be withheld under section 552.102.

We understand you also to argue that the information at issue should be afforded similar protection to information regarding applicants for the position of public school superintendent under section 552.126. The latter provision excepts from disclosure "[t]he name of an applicant for the position of public school superintendent."(1) The express protection in section 552.126 regarding information pertaining to superintendent position applicants implies the exclusion from protection under that section of other information not specifically provided for there. See 67 Tex. Jur. 3d Statutes 119 (1989). Nor are we aware of any other law under which the requested information may be withheld. Therefore, it must be released.

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

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).

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely

William Walker
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

WMW/ljp

Ref: ID# 133568

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Bob Ward
320 East Methvin
Longview, Texas 75601
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. Section 552.126 also provides, however, that the names of finalists for a superintendent position must be released at least 21 days before the meeting at which a final vote will be taken on the employment of a superintendent.
 

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