In the State of Washington, laws exist to ensure that government is open and that the public has a right to access appropriate records and information possessed by state government. At the same time, there are exceptions to the public's right to access public records that serve various needs including the privacy of individuals. Exceptions are provided by both state and federal laws.
In the event of a conflict between the Public Records Act or other law governing the agency's disclosure of records, the Public Records Act or other applicable law will control.
How to Request Public Records
A request should be made, in writing preferably, on the form available at:
A request must give a specific description of the requested record(s), including type of record and date(s). If the request is not clear, the College may request clarification.
Only existing identifiable records are public records. The law does not require the creation of new records to respond to a public records request.
The request should be emailed, faxed, or mailed to our Records Officer:
Carie Edmiston, Interim Vice President for Finance & Administration
1502 E. Lauridsen Blvd
Fax Number: 360-417-6218
Generally, within 5 business days, of receiving a request, the college will:
- Provide copies or provide an estimate of when the records will be available or
- Reply that no responsive records exist; or
- Acknowledge the request and ask for additional clarification(s); or
- Provide applicable exemptions
Are there costs connected with a public records request?
No, if the requester only wants to view the requested records. Please indicate in your request whether you want to view only or need copies. During inspection of the records, College personnel will be present with a person who views the records to ensure protection of the records and to maintain the order of the records. Viewing of documents will only be during regular business hours and must be set up in advance with the Records Officer.
Yes, if the requester wants a copy of the requested records. The charge for copies is .25 per page of copying or scanning of records plus the actual shipping charges.
Exemptions and Limitations
Some records are exempt from the public disclosure law. Here are a few examples:
- Personal information, i.e., residential address or telephone numbers of any individuals associated with the College, medical/health records, ADA disability records
- Social security numbers
- Mailing lists of employees, volunteers, and students to be used for commercial purposes
- Student education records as provided under FERPA, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
- Library information about library users
- All applications for public employment, including the names of applicants, resumes, and other related materials submitted with respect to an applicant
- Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination data used to administer any examination
- Information regarding the infrastructure and security of computer and telecommunications networks to the extent they identify specific system vulnerabilities.
- Credit and debit card numbers, account numbers, expiration dates, and personal financial data.
What happens when I make a Public Records Request?
Within five business days, you will be notified that your request has been received. Our staff then contacts the department(s) holding the records you seek and provides them with a copy of your request. The department(s) will identify, collect and forward the records to the Public Records Officer.
The Public Records Officer reviews these records and may remove information as allowed by the public records statute, state law, federal law or case law. The officer also may notify third parties who have an interest in the records you are requesting.
You will be contacted once this review is complete and records are ready for release. The response date by which your records will be available depends on the number of requests received before yours, and the size and complexity of your request. If a request is very complex, more time may be required. You'll be notified if this is the case.
Can you keep my request for records confidential?
No, your public records request is not a confidential record. The request is itself a public record. It can be requested by others, plus the public records officer forwards public records requests to departments holding records and to third parties who have an interest in the records requested.
Are some records not subject to public disclosure?
Washington State law specifically exempts some records from public disclosure. Exemptions are designed to protect the privacy of individuals, protect law enforcement or other investigative agencies processes or the legitimate business interests of citizens.
Exemptions include, but are not limited to:
- Information regarding staff and faculty, such as social security numbers, home phone numbers, home addresses, resumes and employment applications
- Student personal information including school and medical records
- Investigative records relating to current enforcement
- Examination test scores
- Data that if disclosed could result in private gain and/or public loss
- Correspondence between agency staff and the Attorney General’s Office
- Information from certain records which would constitute an invasion of privacy as defined in (RCW 42.56.210)
In some cases, we may redact portions of a public record exempt from disclosure. It is our obligation to tell you why a record is exempt.
If you want to dispute that a document has been determined non-public information it will be necessary for the college to request an Attorney General’s opinion about this information. The Attorney General’s office has up to 12 weeks to make a decision on whether the information is public or not public.
What happens if my request is denied?
If your public records request is denied, you may appeal the decision by submitting a written request for appeal to the Public Records Officer. The written request must specifically refer to the written statement by the public records officer that accompanied the denial.
The public records officer will refer your written request for appeal to the president or designee. The president or designee will immediately consider the matter, may consult with the Office of the Attorney General, and will either affirm or reverse the denial. The request will be returned with a final decision within two business days following the filing of the written request for review. If the review affirms the denial of access to a public record, the requestor has a right to seek a written opinion from the Office of the Attorney General. The requestor also has a right to obtain a court review of the denial of a public records request.
Where can I find out more about the Public Records Act and how it works?
Below are links to the sections of Washington State Law that govern public records and public information:
Citation: RCW 42.56 and WAC 44-14 (pdf version)