The Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) has released its first binding opinion for 2023. In PAC Op. 23-001, the PAC found a school district in violation of FOIA for failing to respond to a FOIA request. The requester had asked for records relating to teaching staff levels, including emails with certain key words. The requester subsequently filed an appeal with the PAC claiming that although the school district acknowledged receipt of the request, it did not provide the requested documents or provide a response to the request. It will come as no surprise that the PAC determined that the district’s failure to respond was a violation of FOIA.

As we have noted before, these type of binding opinions do little to provide guidance to public bodies on how to apply particular exemptions, interpret other provisions of FOIA, or address novel issues that public bodies may encounter in responding to FOIA requests. Of course, these opinions remind public bodies of their obligations under FOIA, but there is nothing new here that hasn’t already been said in numerous other binding opinions.