Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)
Under South Carolina’s Freedom of Information Act (Section 30-4-20) the “public record” is defined as “all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, or other documentary material regardless of physical form or characteristics prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body.”
Making a FOIA Request
All requests for information under FOIA should be submitted in writing to:
Williamsburg County School District
Office of the Superintendent
500 North Academy Street
Kingstree, SC 29556
All FOIA requests should include the following information:
- Email Address
- Telephone Number
- Detailed description of the public record being sought
- Date of request
- Confirmation that the information will not be used for commercial solicitation
Exemptions and Prohibitions
The FOIA does not require the creation or generation of records that do not exist, nor does it require information to be formatted in a particular manner or file type. Certain records may be exempted from release by the FOIA and those exemptions are specified in S.C. Code Section 30-4-40.
Please note that South Carolina law prohibits the obtaining or using public records for commercial solicitation directed at any person.
Under FOIA, the district has 10 business days (excluding weekends and holidays) to notify the requester of the public availability of the requested record. Once notification has taken place, the district has an additional 30 calendar days to produce the requested material. For records that are more than 24 months old, the initial notification deadline is 15 business days, and the deadline for producing the requested material is 35 calendar days. All deadlines may be extended by mutual agreement of the requester and the district.
Section 30-4-30 (B) of the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act allows the school district to charge “reasonable fees” for the “search, retrieval, or redaction of records.” The fees must represent the “lowest possible cost” and cannot exceed the actual costs of performing the FOIA request and making copies. If it is determined that the information requested is “primarily benefitting the general public,” fees can be reduced or waived. A deposit “not to exceed 25 percent of the total reasonably anticipated costs” will be required prior to searching for or making copies of records. The requester has the right to receive an electronic transmission of the public record if those records are in electronic format or if they can be produced in an electronic format. Any applicable fees must be paid prior to receipt of the requested records.
Board policy KBA has established the following fees for requests under the FOIA:
- An hourly fee (prorated) for the lowest compensated employee who can complete the request
- Copying costs of 15 cents per page
- The district may require a 25% deposit to begin compiling FOIA requests. The remaining balance must be paid prior to receiving requested records.
- Fees may be reduced or waived if it is determined that the information requested is primarily benefitting the general public, according to FOIA Section 30-4-30 (C).
- There will be no charge for the first hour of staff time needed to respond to any FOIA request.