Frequently Asked QuestionsPublic Records
Public Records Power Point Presentation
Virtually, any document, created, received or maintained by UNF, it employees or by its representatives acting in their official capacities is considered a public record and is subject to inspection by the public.
What you name or call the document will not determine whether it is a public record. The content of the document is what matters. Only a specific statutory exemption makes it confidential and not subject to disclosure.
Again, it is the content, not the big red stamp, that controls whether it is a public document.
Yes. Memoranda, letters or e-mails to or from UNF's Office of the General Counsel are public record unless they meet the statutory exemptions or the narrow attorney/client privilege.
The content of the message controls whether it is a public document.
The most common confidential records that are exempt from public disclosure include:
- Social security numbers
- Medical information
- Personnel information prior to July 1, 1995
- Faculty academic evaluation of job performance
- Disciplinary records while discipline is in progress
- Student records under FERPA
- UNF foundation records regarding cultivation and solicitation of gifts, donor records and information regarding donors.
Most of it! The limited exemptions for "personal" work include:
- Personal notes which are neither distributed to others nor filed as a permanent record
- Personal notes which are kept solely for the purpose of refreshing your memory
- Drafts you prepare but are not circulated
- Documents you prepare containing confidential exempt information.
No. While portions of your "personal" work may be exempt, please understand the following:
- One "personal" work is circulated for "review" or "comment" by others, it is public record.
- Once circulated, "preliminary" or "working drafts" are considered to "perpetuate, communicate, or formalize knowledge" about University business and are subject to disclosure.
Yes. Transitory messages are also exempt.
Transitory messages are:
- Records created primarily for the communication of information that are not for the perpetuation of knowledge.
- Records that do not set policy, establish guidelines or procedures, certify a transaction, or become a receipt.
Sure. Examples include: e-mail messages with short-lived, or no administrative value; voice mail, self-sticking notes, and telephone messages.
By a "public records request".
Any person, even a non-resident of Florida.
They can be verbal, written or e-mailed.
The requestor can inspect and copy any public record which is not exempt from disclosure.
No. The requestor has a right to conduct a "fishing expedition" and look at any public record. A requestor's motive is irrelevant and the requestor does not have to tell you why he or she wants the records.
- Is it clear what the requestor wants?
- Do I need to call the Office of the General Counsel for advice?
- Do any exemptions apply to the records request?
- Will there be a need to redact confidential information from the records to be produced?
Redact means to "mark through" or "white out" confidential information.
The records custodian has a "reasonable" time to respond so make sure you know what to send.
Yes. The records custodian can charge the requestor for:
- The cost of labor for retrieving and redacting records if the amount requested is voluminous.
- The cost of duplication ($.15 per copy, $.20 for double-sided copies and $1.00 per certified copy).
- No requirement to create records.
- No requirement to provide the records in the format requested.
- No requirement to meet requestor's "timetable".
- No requirements to provide information not in the records.
- No requirement to explain the records.
Yes, the penalties for intentionally failing to comply with the public records law are:
For the University:
- Attorney's fees and costs to the prevailing party if a lawsuit is filed.
For the employee:
- Potential criminal conviction, including up to $1,000.00 fine and serving 1 year in jail
- Must be maintained in accordance with destruction schedules promulgated by the state librarian.
- Most records must be maintained for 3 years, except those that are transitory.
- You can also review the University's Records Management website for further information, which includes a link to the Secretary of State General Records Schedules for Universities and Communities Colleges.
Yes. E-mail messages made or received by UNF employees in connection with official business are public records and subject to disclosure. Anyone, including newspapers and other media, can access the University's public records; therefore, what you e-mail today could be tomorrow's headline or lead story. Consequently, if you wouldn't want others to read it, don't send it.
- Trust your instincts - if you are concerned that what you want to e-mail shouldn't be viewed by others - don't send it.
- Picking up the telephone instead may be the better choice.
- If you wouldn't say it to someone, you may not want to e-mail it.