July 24, 1997
Mr. Walter Greening
68 West Corbett Road
Montgomery, NY 12549
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to
issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is
based solely upon the information presented in your correspondence.
Dear Mr. Greening:
As you are aware, I have received your letter of June 24,
which reached this office on June 30.
You made reference to earlier correspondence in which you
sought an advisory opinion concerning limitations imposed by the
Valley Central School District on the amount of time on a given day
during which you could inspect records. In response to your
inquiry, based on the regulations promulgated by the Committee on
Open Government and an unanimous decision rendered by the Appellate
Division, it was advised that the District is required to make
records available during the entirety of its regular business hours
on a day in which it authorizes inspection of records.
You also referred in your recent letter to "an additional
restriction", for the District has informed you that "although a
date and time may be available, someone to assist you may not be."
In this regard, there is nothing in the Freedom of Information Law
that requires that an agency employee be present while a member of
the public inspects records. Similarly, I know of no provision
that requires the presence of a public employee as a condition
precedent to the review of records.
This is not to suggest that you have the right to inspect
records instantly following a request or that you may inspect
records during the entirety of the District's regular business
hours on the day or days of your choosing. I am suggesting,
however, that when you are informed that you can review records on
a given day, I believe that you may do so during regular business,
with or without the presence of a District employee. The extent to
which the District opts to have an employee present while you
review records is, in my view, a matter of its discretion.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Susan P. Reichardt