IN THIS ISSUE:
- Fourth Circuit Issues Guidance on Employee Free Speech in the Age of Social Media
- South Carolina Freedom Of Information Act Amendment
- Office of Civil Rights Changes Guidance on Transgender Student Complaints
- High School Diploma Requirements Revised & Alternate Credential Created for Students with an IEP
- New Football Stadium Requirements
- Study on Seizure Safety in Schools
- School District Fiscal Practices & Budgetary Conditions
Fourth Circuit Issues Guidance on Employee Free Speech in the Age of Social Media
South Carolina Freedom Of Information Act Amendment
- Electronic records and transmission of public records. A person has a right to receive an electronic transmission of any public record; however, a public body is not required to create an electronic version of a public record when it does not exist. Further, copy charges may not apply to public records transmitted electronically, but if records are not in electronic format and the public body agrees to produce them in electronic format, the public body may charge for the staff time required to transfer the documents to electronic format.
- Fees for the search, retrieval, or redaction of public records. A public body may charge reasonable fees, not to exceed the actual cost of the search, retrieval, and redaction of records, in responding to a FOIA request. A public body must develop a fee schedule to be posted online. Any fee cannot exceed the prorated annual salary of the lowest paid employee who, in the reasonable discretion of the custodian of the records, has the necessary skills and training to search, retrieve, or redact the records. Additionally, a uniform fee for copying costs may be charged (except for records transmitted electronically) not exceeding the prevailing commercial rate. A fee deposit not exceeding 25% of the total reasonable anticipated cost for production of the records may be required by the public body prior to searching for or making copies of records.
- New timelines for responding to a FOIA request. Instead of 15 business days, a public body now has only 10 business days to notify the person making the request of its determination as to the public availability of the requested public record. If the FOIA request seeks records more than 24 months old, then the public body has 20 business days to provide this notification. This initial notification and determination of availability, however, is not required to include a final decision or opinion as to whether specific portions of documents may be subject to redaction. Following the initial determination notice, or the receipt of any required fee deposit, whichever is latest, a public body has 30 calendar days (35 calendar days for records more than 24 months old) to actually produce the records responsive to the FOIA request. Finally, these timelines are subject to extension by written, mutual agreement, and such agreement shall not be unreasonably withheld.
- Prohibition of use of personal information for commercial solicitation. Local governments and political subdivisions, such as school districts, must provide a notice under the Family Privacy Protection Act, §30-2-50, to all persons who request or obtain records pursuant to the Family Privacy Protection Act, that obtaining or using public records for commercial solicitation directed to any person in South Carolina is prohibited. Further, local governments and political subdivisions must take reasonable measures to ensure that no private person or private entity obtains or distributes personal information obtained from a public record for commercial solicitations. Under the new law, these limitations on the use of public records appear to apply without regard to whether personal information is obtained under the Family Privacy Protection Act or the FOIA.
- New legal remedies for public bodies and other interested persons and entities. Public bodies now may file a civil action to seek relief from unduly burdensome, overly broad, vague, repetitive, or otherwise improper FOIA requests, or where the public body is unable to make a good faith determination as to whether the information is exempt from disclosure. Likewise, a person or entity with a specific interest in records or information contained in records, which are exempt from disclosure under certain sections of the FOIA (i.e., §30-4-40(a)(1), (2), (4), (5), (9), (14), (15), or (19)) also may file a civil action or intervene in a pending legal action to determine whether the information is exempt from disclosure. Attorney’s fees and other costs of litigation may be awarded to a prevailing party in certain cases.
Office of Civil Rights Changes Guidance on Transgender Student Complaints
High School Diploma Requirements Revised & Alternate Credential Created for Students with an IEP
New Football Stadium Requirements
Study on Seizure Safety in Schools
As a result of the thousands of South Carolina students, families, teachers, school administrators, and staff impacted by students who have epilepsy, on May 10, 2017, the General Assembly created the “Seizures in Schools Study Committee.” The committee will review information concerning epilepsy awareness among public school teachers, staff, and administrators; basic training in seizure response, existing laws and regulations affecting epilepsy, and seizure safety in public schools; and other areas related to epilepsy and seizure safety in public schools, which the committee considers necessary and relevant to its work.
School District Fiscal Practices & Budgetary Conditions