The Virginia FOIA Opinion Archive


FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-42-01

There is no exemption in Virginia's FOIA, and apparently not one in the federal FOIA either, for a list of names of individuals who have requested records under either act.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-41-01

Though a lcoal chamber of commerce is not a public body, records it keeps on tourism at the request and as an agent of a city council are subject to disclosure under FOIA. The chamber, not the city council is the custodian of the records where the city is not statutorily required to maintain tourism records.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-40-01

A gathering of four of five members of a governing body prior to a regularly scheduled meeting is prohibited if the members are discussing public business, but is not prohibited if public business is not being discussed.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-39-01

A public body cannot charge a request fee unless it has determined in advance that the fee accurately reflects the cost to search and provide a requested record.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-38-01

It is not a violation of FOIA for public body members to reach a consensus in closed session, but nothing is official until a vote in open session has been taken; a motion to close a meeting listing only the purpose and the statutory citation is inadequate because it does not also identify the purpose of the meeting; FOIA insures the public's right to witness public meetings, it does not guarantee the right to participate in meetings.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-37-01

An agency remains the legal custodian of records it is mandated by law to maintain, even if it does not retain physical custody of the records.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-36-01

Whether an entity is supported wholly or principally by public funds is a case-by-case determination based on the totality of all revenue sources; however, as a guideline, an entity recieving at least two-thirds of its funding from the government is a public body.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-34-01

Neither a volunteer fire company nor a committee created to handle the company's finances are public bodies; the minutes taken by a non-public body nonetheless become public records when they are provided to a public body (such as a city council); a non-public body's financial records in the possession of a local treasurer are not public records; a public record cannot be withheld simply because the public body for whom the record is prepared has not yet received it; there is no FOIA requirement that a request for records be made in writing.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-35-01

Unlike an annual request to be notified of meetings, FOIA does not require a public body to honor a standing request for records; however, to ease the administrative burden of responding multiple requests, the body may want to honor the annual request.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-33-01

According to the federal Family Policy Compliance Office, even if a school/university has designated certain student information as directory information, it can still withhold the information in its discretion.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-31-01

Though a public body may discuss the sale of publicly held real property in closed meeting, FOIA and subsection B of ß15.2-1800 require a public meeting and vote before selling the property.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-32-01

The city manager cannot invoke the working papers exemption to protect draft budget proposals. Because those documents are routinely generated pursuant to another law, which characterizes them as the city council's property, during the ordinary course of business, they are subject to mandatory disclosure under FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-29-01

Parent is entitled to view school investigatory records relating to his/her child, but portions identifying other students, teachers or attorney-client privileged information may be withheld.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-30-01

A specific provision outside of FOIA prohibits the release of investigatory files by the Board of Social Work, even to the subject of the file.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-27-01

There is no blanket exemption preventing the Commissioner of Revenue from releasing any information; the legal name of a business on the commissioner's tax roles is subject to disclosure.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-28-01

Actions taken pertaining to a specific school employee may be withheld, but also may be disclosed; the name, salary and job assignment of school employees must be disclosed.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-26-01

No exemption applies to allow for confidential discussion over construction plans for a previously approved restaurant

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-25-01

Government entity may charge the actual cost, including an hourly rate for the time reasonably necessary, to fulfill an FOIA request.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-24-01

Citizens advisory committee established to make recommendations to the State Transportation Board is subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-22-01

Attorney-client privilege exemption gives record custodian discretion to release as much or as little of exempt record to anyone; distribution to one person does not destroy the exemption.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-23-01

Student government of state college is subject to FOIA when supported wholly or principally by public funds.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-21-01

Regarding duty to explain how the actual cost of searching for records was calculated; consecutive requests must be treated separately; public body may require a deposit if cost of providing records would exceed $200.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-16-01

List of concealed handgun permit holders is a public record.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-20-01

Two-person subcommittee is a public body subject to FOIA.

FOI Advisory Council Opinion AO-18-01

At least three working days' notice is necessary to announce the change in location of a previously scheduled meeting; updates required everywhere notice is posted, including the Internet.