Freedom of Information (FOIA) Request Form

Request for Information - FOIA

Dorchester School District Four (DD4) conducts public business in a transparent manner, and fully complies with the South Carolina Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).  DD4 makes it possible for the public to have access to public records in accordance with this act.

The FOIA provides the public with access to a public agency’s existing records that are not subject to an exemption under the law. 

Section 30-4-20(c) of the FOIA defines a “public record” as “all books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, or other documentary materials regardless of physical form or characteristics prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body.”

Certain categories of documents such as personnel records; student records; tests and examinations used to evaluate student or employee performance; records relating to the security of students, staff, or property; records protected from disclosure under attorney-client privilege; and executive session materials are exempt from disclosure under Section 30-4-40.

Please note that South Carolina law (FOIA Section 30-4-50) prohibits the obtaining or use of public records for commercial solicitation.

All requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) must be submitted in writing to the district’s Office of Human Resources. You may send your request by email or by letter to the Director of Human Resources, Dorchester School District Four, 500 Ridge Street, St. George, South Carolina 29477.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act, for current records, the district has 10 business days (excluding weekends and legal public holidays) to determine if the record requested is publicly available under the FOIA. Following notification of the determination to the person making the request, or, if a deposit has been requested and has been paid, the district then has 30 calendar days to actually produce the records responding to the FOIA request. 

For records that are more than 24 months old, the district has 20 business days (excluding weekends and legal public holidays) to determine if the information requested is publicly available and 35 calendar days after notifying the requestor of its determination or, after a requested deposit has been paid, to actually produce the records. 

All deadlines may be extended by mutual agreement of the requester and the district and this agreement shall not be unreasonably withheld.

Required information — Please include all information listed in the DD4 FOIA Request Form.

Fees — Section 30-4-30(B) of the FOIA allows the district to charge reasonable fees for the search, retrieval, or redaction of records. The fees must represent the lowest possible cost and cannot exceed the actual cost of producing the requested records. If it is determined by the district that the information requested is primarily benefiting the general public, the district may reduce or waive the fee. 

A deposit not to exceed 25 percent of the total reasonably anticipated costs for production of the records may be required prior to searching for or making copies of records. This includes, but is not limited to, charges for staff time and the cost of searching, retrieving, redacting and copying records. Any applicable fees must be paid prior to receipt of the requested records.

The law does not require the district to generate or create records that do not exist.

The requester has the right to receive an electronic transmission of the public record, if those records are in an electronic format. If records are not in electronic format and the district agrees to produce them in electronic format, the district may charge for the staff time required to transfer the documents to electronic format. Fees may be charged for search time, but no copy charges will apply to records transmitted in an electronic format. 

Once the district receives a written FOIA request, the district will provide the requester with an estimate of the costs. DD4 may require the requester send a deposit of 25 percent of the estimated cost before the district will begin the process of producing the records requested. The remaining balance of the cost must be paid at the time of production of the records.

DD4 uses the following fee structure for filling FOIA requests:

Copying (up to size 11x17): 11 cents per page, (black/white copies only)

Record research: Hourly fee shall be based on the lowest hourly rate of the person qualified to research the requested records.

Redaction: Some records contain confidential information that may need to be redacted before they can be released. The hourly fee for redaction will be based on the lowest hourly salary of the person who is cleared to redact the confidential information.