Public Information - Open Records
The Texas Public Information Act provides the public a right of access to information collected, assembled, maintained, owned or controlled by a governmental body unless otherwise expressly provided by law. The act is found in Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code. Public information is defined as information “collected, assembled, or maintained in connection with the transaction of official business.”
Houston Community College is a governmental body subject to the act. Therefore, any member of the public may make a written request for access to or copies of public information. Public information must be disclosed “promptly.” How promptly is a matter of how easily accessible the information is, whether the records contain confidential information that must be redacted prior to disclosure, and whether an Attorney General ruling must be sought with regard to information that is subject to an exception. Most records are provided within 10 days, but some requests are so complex and voluminous that it may be several weeks before access is granted or denied.
When a request for information is received, it should be forwarded to the Office of General Counsel for immediate action. With limited exceptions, in order to withhold information, the General Counsel's Office must request an opinion from the Attorney General within ten business days from receipt of a request. Faculty members may release information from a student’s educational record directly to the student without sending the request to the General Counsel's Office.