Freedom of Information Act
In 1967, the Arkansas General Assembly approved, and Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller signed, the Freedom of Information Act. The Act guaranteed the right of Arkansas citizens to inspect public records and required all public governing bodies to conduct public meetings. The General Assembly explained its intentions behind the Act:
It is vital in a democratic society that public business be performed in an open and public manner so that the electors shall be advised of the performance of public officials and of the decisions that are reached in public activity and in making public policy. Toward this end, this chapter is adopted, making it possible for them or their representatives to learn and to report fully the activities of their public officials.
The Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) makes every effort to comply with the letter and the spirit of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. Any citizen of Arkansas may ask to inspect or copy any public record in the Department's custody or control. Some records maintained by the Department are exempt from disclosure under state or federal law, in order to protect the privacy rights of students, teachers, and ADE employees. Student records are specifically protected by federal laws, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). However, the vast majority of the Department's records are open to inspection.
An FOI request may be submitted to the Department in person or by e-mail, mail, fax, or phone by use of the contact information below.
Records Maintained by ADE
Act 1653 of 2001 requires all state agencies to provide the public with a list and general description of records maintained by the agency. In addition to the ordinary financial and administrative records maintained in the administration of the Department's internal affairs, the Department also maintains the following records:
- Individual and aggregate data reflecting student performance on state-mandated assessments, and public school academic achievement;
- Financial and accounting records maintained by public school districts and open-enrollment public charter schools in the Arkansas Public School Computer Network (APSCN);
- Records generated in the Department's monitoring of public school finance, curriculum, accreditation, technology, and special education services;
- Records generated by the Department's administration of federal education funds and grants;
- Complaints and investigative reports regarding equity issues;
- Complaints and investigative reports regarding the Code of Ethics for Arkansas Educators;
- Applications and records related to teacher licensure and professional development;
- Department rules, comments made pertaining to rules, and other legal records; and
- Appeals of student residency and school choice disputes.