A&A: Request to School District for Records Refused

Q:  I made some CPRA requests to our school district. They are refusing to release the records. How do I file a complaint?

A:  When an agency fails to provide requested records that you believe are subject to public disclosure, Government Code section 6259 allows you to file a lawsuit. Lawsuits to enforce the CPRA are usually initiated by a verified petition (i.e., a request filed under oath) that asks the court to issue a “writ of mandate.” A writ of mandate is a type of order directing the public agency to take specified actions. The lawsuit maybe filed in the superior court of the county of the agency that is the holder of the records. Lawsuits against state agencies may be brought in Sacramento County or in any city in which the California attorney general has an office. Code of Civil Procedure section 401(1).

The judge will likely examine the records in private and consider the briefs and evidence submitted by the parties to determine if the agency was justified in withholding the records.  If the judge determines that the records were improperly withheld, he or she will likely order the agency to disclose the records and to pay the plaintiff’s court costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees.  Government Code section 6259.

Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP is general counsel for the First Amendment Coalition and responds to FAC hotline inquiries.  In responding to these inquiries, we can give general information regarding open government and speech issues but cannot provide specific legal advice or representation.  No attorney-client relationship has been formed by way of this response.


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