PUBLIC ENTITY MUST STATE LEGAL AUTHORITY FOR DENYING RECORD

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July 19, 2019


Request: Did the Belcourt School District #7 violate the open records law by failing to provide records within a reasonable time?

Conclusion: The Belcourt school district received a request for recorded audio files for all regular and special board meetings over a six month period. Belcourt’s response did not include the recording from one meeting, but the district did not include an explanation or the legal authority for the omitted recording. Only after being contacted by the requester about the missing recording did the school explain the need for legal consultation about releasing the recording as the meeting implicated various legal issues, including one involving the requester. The recording was finally made available to the requester almost two months after the initial request. The Belcourt School District violated the law because it failed to provide the legal authority to withhold a record and it unreasonably delayed providing access to a record.

Opinion 2019-O-15

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