Kansas Open Records Act
A Guide to the Rights of the Public and the Responsibilities of Public Schools
Kansas Sunshine Laws
Sunshine laws require governments to function in the open, subject to public scrutiny. Kansas has two sunshine laws: the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) and the Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA). KORA requires most records that are made or kept by public schools or community colleges to be open to the public. KORA and KOMA are designed to ensure public access to information that forms the basis for public decision-making.
Each of these laws makes openness the rule but recognizes there are times when individual privacy interests or competing public interests override the public right to know.
By law, private individuals may bring an action in the district court to enforce their rights under the KORA. Actions can also be brought by the county attorney, the district attorney or the Kansas Attorney General. Although schools or community colleges can be fined for intentionally violating KORA, injunctions and other orders to enforce the purposes of KORA are the most common remedies for disputes.
Kansas Open Records Act
KORA begins with the presumption that all public records should be open to the public but allows certain exemptions from this requirement. Exemptions are included in the law because the legislature has determined that there are instances when the public's right to know is outweighed by another important interest.
The following list provides some examples of the types of records which may be exempt under KORA.
· Records exempted by other laws
· Records that are privileged under the rules of evidence
· Medical and treatment records
· Personnel records except for the name of the employee, position held, salary and length of service
· The names of donors, if they have requested their names not be released
· Some emergency or security procedures
· Sealed bids until one is accepted or all are rejected
· Correspondence with a private individual
· Records containing information of a personal nature where disclosure would constitute an unwarranted invasion of privacy
KORA requires schools to adopt procedures for requesting access to public records. A request for access to records should be directed to the custodian of the record:
District Records - Board Clerk
Business Records - Finance Executive Director
Staff Records - HR Executive Director
Student Records - School Principals
All requests must be submitted in writing. Forms are available, or you may provide the custodian of the record your name, address, phone number and a description of the record you want. In most cases, we will retrieve the record promptly. If the record is not kept here, we will make every effort to direct you to the correct site or to retrieve the record so you may inspect it here.
You may access our records at any time during regular business hours. To access records on business days when our facilities are closed, we request 24-hour, advance notice.
Public records may not be removed from our office. If you want a copy of the record, please inform the custodian of the record who will explain any copying fees and arrange for the copying of the record. (Copies are ten cents per page. A reasonable fee may be assessed to compensate for staff time used to meet some requests.)
If you have questions about these procedures, please talk with the custodian of the record or the freedom of information officer in the Communications Office.