Fresh Tips: Sample Request for Records under the Kansas Open Records Act

Note: The primary purpose of this request form is to easily enable requestors to include in their requests all statutory language in the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) related to public agencies’ duties to disclose public records. Although a KORA request is not required to be in any particular form, including the language here in your request makes a record that the agency was or should have been aware of each and all of its duties under law at the time it receives the request. Then, the requestor in better position to ultimately prevail if the matter were to be litigated in court or otherwise resolved by a third party such as the Attorney General’s Office.  A .doc version of the Sample Request for Records under the Kansas Open Records Act is here.

[Date]

[Name of Records Custodian]
[Name of Public Agency]
[Street Address]
[City, ST ZIP Code]
[email address]

Dear [Records Custodian]:

I hereby submit this request under the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) via email and regular mail for physical or electronic copies of the following public record or records:

[INSERT DESCRIPTION OF RECORD OR RECORDS.]

As you are aware, it is the public policy of the state of Kansas that “public records shall be open for inspection by any person unless otherwise provided by this act, and this act shall be liberally construed and applied to promote such policy.”  K.S.A. 45-216(a).  If a record subject to this request “contains material which is not subject to disclosure” under KORA, you are required to “separate or delete such material and make available” the “material in the public record that is subject to disclosure.”  K.S.A. 45-221(d).

KORA requires that this request be acted upon as soon as possible, but in any event “not later than the end of the third business day following the date that you receive the request.”  K.S.A. 45-218(d).  If access to the requested record or records is not granted immediately, KORA requires you “to give a detailed explanation of the cause for further delay and the place and earliest time and date that the record will be available for inspection.”  K.S.A. 45-218(d).

If there is a cost associated with meeting this open request under K.S.A. 45-219, please indicate the approximate cost, both for copies and for any staff time that might be required to complete the request. K.S.A. 45-219(c)(5) defines a reasonable charge for physical copies as equal to or less than $.25 per page.  If both physical and electronic copies of the requested record or records are available, and the cost of disclosing electronic records is lower than that of disclosing physical copies, I request that you provide electronic copies only.

If this request is denied, KORA requires that you provide me with “a written statement of the ground for denial.  Such statement shall cite the specific provision of law under which access is denied.”  K.S.A. 45-218(d).  In the event of denial, I hereby request that this “statement” be furnished to me “no later than the end of the third business day following the date that the request for the statement is received.”  K.S.A. 45-218(d).

In the event any record or records are disclosed as a result of this request, I certify, in accordance with K.S.A. 45-220(c)(2), that I do not intend to, and will not: “(A) Use any list of names or addresses contained in or derived from the records or information for the purpose of selling or offering for sale any property or service to any person listed or to any person who resides at any address listed; or (B) sell, give or otherwise make available to any person any list of names or addresses contained in or derived from the records or information for the purpose of allowing that person to sell or offer for sale any property or service to any person listed or to any person who resides at any address listed.”

Thank you for your assistance.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]
[Address]
[Phone Number]
[email address]

OPTIONAL PARAGRAPH WHEN REQUESTING RECORDS LIKELY TO BE CONSIDERED CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION RECORDS:

If your agency chooses not to disclose any of the public records I have requested pursuant to K.S.A. 45-221(a)(10), I hereby request that you provide a written citation to the specific provisions of paragraphs (A) through (F) that necessitate closure of that public record.

OPTIONAL PARAGRAPH WHEN REQUESTING COMMUNICATIONS FROM DEVICES SUCH AS CELL PHONES, TABLETS AND SERVERS IN THE POSSESSION OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS OR EMPLOYEES:

Finally, under new law effective July 1, 2016, “public records” means “any recorded information, regardless of form, characteristics or location, which is made, maintained or kept by or is in the possession of any officer or employee of a public agency pursuant to the officer’s or employee’s official duties and which is related to the functions, activities, programs or operations of any public agency.”  K.S.A. 2016 Supp. 45-217(g).  According to Attorney General Derek Schmidt in connection with legislative testimony in support of this new definition, “[t]he public’s business ought to be subject to public scrutiny, and public retention and public review, regardless of where or how it’s communicated.” The new law is in contrast to the Attorney General’s application of the old law, which failed to reach content on devices in the possession of state employees.

Max Kautsch is the Kansas legal hotline attorney for the Kansas Press Association and the Kansas Association of Broadcasters.  Send him an email here.