The Rights of Requesters and the Responsibilities of Longwood University Under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act.
The Virginia Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), located § 2.2-3700 et. seq. of the Code of Virginia, guarantees citizens of the Commonwealth and representatives of the media access to public records held by public bodies, public officials, and public employees.
A public record is any writing or recording -- regardless of whether it is a paper record, an electronic file, an audio or video recording, or any other format -- that is prepared or owned by, or in the possession of a public body or its officers, employees or agents in the transaction of public business. All public records are presumed to be open, and may only be withheld if a specific, statutory exemption applies.
The policy of FOIA states that the purpose of FOIA is to promote an increased awareness by all persons of governmental activities. In furthering this policy, FOIA requires that the law be interpreted liberally, in favor of access, and that any exemption allowing public records to be withheld must be interpreted narrowly.
You may request records by U.S. Mail, e-mail, in person, or over the phone.
FOIA does not require that your request be in writing, nor do you need to specifically state that you are requesting records under FOIA.
From a practical perspective, it may be helpful to both you and the person receiving your request to put your request in writing. This allows you to create a record of your request and it gives a clear statement of what records you are requesting, so that there is no misunderstanding over a verbal request.
However, we cannot refuse to respond to your FOIA request if you elect to not put it in writing.
Your request must identify the records you are seeking with "reasonable specificity."
This is a common-sense standard. It does not refer to or limit the volume or number of records that you are requesting; instead, it requires that you be specific enough so that we can identify and locate the records that you are seeking.
Your request must ask for existing records or documents. FOIA gives you a right to inspect or copy records; it does not apply to a situation where you are asking general questions about the work of Longwood University, nor does it require Longwood University to create a record that does not exist.
You may choose to receive electronic records in any format used by Longwood University in the regular course of business.
For example, if you are requesting records maintained in an Excel database, you may elect to receive those records electronically, via e-mail or on a computer disk, or to receive a printed copy of those records
If we have questions about your request, please cooperate with staff's efforts to clarify the type of records that you are seeking, or to attempt to reach a reasonable agreement about a response to a large request.
Making a FOIA request is not an adversarial process, but we may need to discuss your request with you to ensure that we understand what records you are seeking.
If you believe that your FOIA rights have been violated, you may file a petition in district or circuit court to compel compliance with FOIA.
To request records from Longwood University, or questions about requesting records from Longwood University please contact Lauren Whittington, Longwood University FOIA Officer, by mail, email, or phone.
Attn: Lauren Whittington
Longwood University FOIA Officer
201 High Street
Farmville, VA 23909
The Freedom of Information Advisory Council is available to answer any questions you may have about FOIA. The council may be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 804. 225.3056 or [toll free] 1.866.448.4100.
Longwood University must respond to your request within five working days of receiving it.
"Day One" is considered the day after your request is received. The five-day period does not include weekends or holidays.
The reason behind your request for public records from Longwood University is irrelevant, and we cannot ask you why you want the records before we respond to your request. FOIA does, however, allow Longwood University to ask you to provide your name and legal address.
FOIA requires that Longwood University make one of the following responses to your request within the five-day time period:
If it is practically impossible for Longwood University to respond to your request within the five-day period, we must state this in writing, explaining the conditions that make the response impossible. This will allow us seven additional working days to respond to your request, giving us a total of 12 working days to respond to your request.
Large Records Requests
If you make a request for a very large number of records, and we feel that we cannot provide the records to you within 12 days without disrupting our other organizational responsibilities, we may petition the court for additional time to respond to your request. However, FOIA requires that we make a reasonable effort to reach an agreement with you concerning the production or the records before we go to court to ask for more time.
You may have to pay for the records that you request from Longwood University.
FOIA allows us to charge for the actual costs of responding to FOIA requests.
This would include items like
It cannot include general overhead costs.
The five days that we have to respond to your request does not include the time between when we ask for a deposit and when you respond.
If we estimate that it will cost more than $200 to respond to your request, we may require you to pay a deposit, not to exceed the amount of the estimate, before proceeding with your request.
You may request that we estimate in advance the charges for supplying the records that you have requested. This will allow you to know about any costs upfront, or give you the opportunity to modify your request in an attempt to lower the estimated costs.
Unpaid FOIA Request
If you owe us money from a previous FOIA request that has remained unpaid for more than 30 days, Longwood University may require payment of the past due bill before it will respond to your new FOIA request.
Virginia’s FOIA Costs Statement
"A public body may make reasonable charges not to exceed its actual cost incurred in accessing, duplicating, supplying, or searching for the requested records. No public body shall impose any extraneous, intermediary, or surplus fees or expenses to recoup the general costs associated with creating or maintaining records or transacting the general business of the public body. Any duplicating fee charged by a public body shall not exceed the actual cost of duplication. All charges for the supplying of requested records shall be estimated in advance at the request of the citizen as set forth in subsection F of § 2.2-3704 of the Code of Virginia." (2.2-3704.1(A)(6))
The Code of Virginia (§2.2-3705) allows any public body to withhold certain records from public disclosure. Longwood University commonly withholds records, including but not limited to, the following exemptions: