The Virginia FOIA Opinion Archive


FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-07

The closed meeting exemption for consultation with counsel regarding specific legal matters may not be used for the purpose of discussing a general policy in the absence of any specific legal transaction or dispute.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-10-06

A nonprofit foundation created by private citizens that voluntarily works with localities for the public good, but does not receive public funding, is not a public body subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-09-06

An entity (in this case, a redistricting committee assisting a school board) that states that its meetings are open to the public should provide public notice of those meetings, whether or not the entity is subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-06

Animal licensing records are open to the public under FOIA and §3.1-796.86. Public bodies should not collect from citizens information that will become part of a public record unless such collection is required or necessary to the mission of the public body.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-06

Opining whether a FOIA provision violates substantive due process under the federal Constitution is beyond the authority of the FOIA Council.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-06

A request for statutes and regulations granting legal authority to a public body is not a request for public records as contemplated by FOIA. FOIA expressly provides the procedure to follow if a public body needs additional time to respond to a request. A response that does not meet the procedural requirements of FOIA is not a proper response.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-06

There is no special exemption in FOIA for a joint committee of conference of the General Assembly to hold a closed meeting on a budget bill.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-06

It is beyond the scope of the FOI Advisory Council's authority to interpret the rules of either house of the General Assembly. There is no joint conference of the General Assembly after adjournment sine die.

FOI Advisory Council Opinon AO-02-06

Gathering of quorum from both a town council and a planning commission, on a topic that had once been before the council and was likely to be before it again, should have been advertised to the public as a joint meeting of both entities.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-06

FOIA requires that meeting minutes contain a summary of the discussion on matters proposed, deliberated or decided, and a record of any votes taken. Public bodies should always include in meeting minutes a summary of any matter that appears on the agenda for that meeting and of any matters that are the subject of a motion or vote.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-05-05

At present, there is no requirement for public body to tell records requester that the records asked for do not exist. If original records are legible, the copies should be, too. Publilc body cannot require requester to inspect records rather than copy them. Public body not required to recreate lost records or records no longer in its possession.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-06-05

If a public body elects to abstract or summarize records, it can only charge for such a newly created record after a prior agreement with the requester.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-11-05

Question on whether meeting of liaison committee of school board and board of supervisors was subject to FOIA depends on status of members as a subcommittee or quorum of their respective public bodies.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-09-05

Financial status of Virginia Performing Arts Foundation is difficult to ascertain by a non-fact-finding entity, such as the Freedom of Information Advisory Council. VPAF does not appear to be a public body at the time of the FOIA request being made here. Many of the records in the possession of a party not subject to FOIA will often be in the possession of the public entity the party is receiving funding from. That two members of a public body also serve as members of the board of a private entity does not by itself transform that private entity in a public body subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-08-05

Accident reports containing information on juveniles are not to be treated any differently than reports containing information on adults

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-10-05

Study commission appointed to advise public body is also a public body. Public body may impose restrictions on placement and use of recording devices, but may not prohibit recording.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-07-05

Nothing in FOIA prohibits the release of the name of a juvenile shot and killed by a police officer, but §16.1-301 appears to serve as a broad prohibition against the release of law-enforcement records relating to juvniles.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-04-05

a list of websites and keywords blocked by the school district's computer network firewall may be exempt from disclosure because those records may reveal the design and/or function of part of the school's security system.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-03-05

personnel files at most governmental agencies are available to the subject of the records, but not if the subject is the employee of an educational agency.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-02-05

Nothing in FOIA prohibits the release of the name of a juvenile shot and killed by a police officer, but §16.1-301 appears to serve as a broad prohibition against the release of law-enforcement records relating to juvniles.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-01-05

School board's motion to go into closed session complied with FOIA's three-part test for such motions. County's vague reference to affirm a recommendation on a personnel matter identified by number rather than by name or position did not comport with FOIA's requirement that votes taken after reconvening after a closed meeting must describe the substance of the action.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-28-04

The issue of whether a private entity that receives less than 66 percent of its budget from governmental sources is principally supported by public funds must be considered on a case-by-case basis. The receipt by a private entity of public money derived from arm's length transactions, without any other source of public funds, should not be included in determining the private entity's status as a public body under FOIA. As such, the Peninsula SPCA is not a 'public body' and therefore is not subject to the records and meeting requirements of FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-27-04

A task force created by a mayor-elect is not a public body subject to FOIA, as the Mayor-elect is not an official covered by FOIA until he takes office.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-26-04

The Virginia Board of Bar examiners has discretion under §54.1-108 to withhold the passing score an individual made on the bar exam, even when it is the subject individual making the request. The Virginia Board of Bar Examiners can elect to withhold aggregate data on bar exam results under the board's broad grant of authority under §54.1-3922. The FOI Advisory Council does not have authority to determine whether an agency has abused its discretion in withholding information it is legally entitled to withhold.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-25-04

FOIA requests and responses should be clearly communicated and shold avoid editorial comments so that the process does not become adversarial. Minutes of state agencies created prior to July 1, 2004, may be inadequate representations of what transpired in a meeting; a public body is not required to recreate the actions of a pre-July 1, 2004, meeting in revised minutes.