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Public Records Requests

Examining a recordThe public policy in Wisconsin is to give the public the greatest amount of access to governmental records as possible. MPS responds to all requests for public records as soon as practicable and without delay.

MPS has designated records custodians for each division within the district. These custodians are responsible for retaining their division's records in accordance with Subchapter 2 of the Wisconsin Open Records law and in accordance with district policy. All requests by members of the public for access to district records, however, should be made through the Office of Board Governance.

To file a public records request electronically, send us an email. Public records requests may also be sent to the Office of Board Governance, 5225 W. Vliet Street, Milwaukee, WI, 53208 or by phone at 414-475-8284.

 

Are all records of MPS public?

The public policy in Wisconsin is to give the public the greatest amount of access to government records as possible.  However, this does not mean that all records are available for public access.

After gathering all records that may be responsive to a request, the records are carefully reviewed.  Access to records may be denied if there is a specific statutory exemption to disclosure or if there is a common law or public policy exception.  We may redact portions of a record or withhold a record in its entirety.

If access to a record is denied, we will provide you with a written description of what we have denied and an explanation of our reasons for doing so.

Who may request MPS records?

In general, anyone may make a public records request.

What types of records can be requested?

The term "records" is they are defined by statute.  In general a record is something tangible that has been preserved in some way.  These include such things as a documents, maps, charts, photographs, films, recordings, or tapes.

Items such as drafts, notes, or preliminary documents are generally not considered records.

A record must exist at the time of the request.  Public records law does not obligate a government entity such as MPS to create a new record in order to respond to a request.

What if I just want a question answered? Do I need to request records for that?

You may wish to submit an Information Request instead.  The Information Request process is better suited for situations where you would like general information or where you would like answers to questions and where you don't need to examine or obtain actual records.

The Office of Board Governance will ensure that your request is properly designated and routed through the correct process.

How do I have to word my request?

There is no "magic language".  However, you must reasonably describe the records of interest by providing a specific subject matter and a specific timeframe.

Example:  "Please provide all bid responses" is not a valid request because there is no date range and because the term "bid responses" is vague.

Example:  "Please provide all bid responses for transportation services from 2010-2011" is a valid request.  It specifies which types of bids and the specific year(s) of interest.

Do I have to put my request in writing?

It is not nescessary to put a request in writing.  Requests may also be made by contacting the Office of Board Governance at 414-475-8284.

Are there any fees for obtaining public records?

Yes.  Copies are made at a rate of $0.25 per page for photocopies and $1.00 for media download.  We charge a location fee of $25.34 per hour.  (If a search takes less than two hours, search fees are waived).  Postage rates will be applied if you would like records mailed to you.

You do not need to send a payment at the time that you make your request.  We will contact you with an estimate once we receive feedback from staff.  After reviewing our estimate, you may decide how you wish to proceed.  If costs are estimated to be over $5.00, payment must be made before we continue processing your request.

Once located, records may also be picked up in person or viewed in our office at no charge.

How long will it take for me to get the records that I requested?

We respond to all requests as soon as practicable and without delay.  The specific amount of time that it will take to provide a response will vary, depending on the nature of the request.

Once we receive feedback from staff, we will contact you with an estimate of any applicable fees.  After reviewing our estimate, you may then decide how you wish to proceed.  If costs are estimated to be over $5.00, you must remit payment before we continue processing your request.

After our office has gathered responsive records, we then conduct a legal review.  After completing our review, and after receiving any required pre-payment of fees, the records will be transmitted to you or made available for you to view.

Can I request my child's file or files of other students?

The district follows a separate process for access to individual student records. For more information on obtaining student records, please contact the Office of Family and Student Services.

Can I make a public records request for a research project?

Through the public records process you may be able to obtain previously created data.

Per statute, however, the district is not obligated to create new records in order to respond to a public records request.  Therefore, if your project requires you to conduct new surveys, program evaluations, or studies, then you must apply to conduct research prior to beginning data collection.  For more information, visit the Office of Research and Evaluation.

Where can I find out more about public records requirements?

Here are some additional sources for information:

MPS Administrative Policy 9.12, Public Records

MPS Administrative Policy 9.02, Public's Right to Know

MPS Administrative Procedure 9.02, Public's Right to Know

Wisconsin's Public Records statutes (See Subchapter II, Public Records and Property)

Wisconsin Public Records Law - Compliance Outline

 

Contacts

Phone: 414-475-8284
Fax: 414-475-8071
Email: governance@milwaukee.k12.wi.us

Board Clerk / Director, Office of Board Governance
Jacqueline M. Mann, Ph.D.

Constituent Obudsperson/Board Information Officer

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