Requests from InvestigateWest, and Other Public Records Requests
Several schools have received requests for records from a non-profit entity called InvestigateWest. The request asks for the following documents: 1) a list of the school’s coaches for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years; 2) Any record verifying the school’s identified method for providing concussion-related training to coaches; 3) The school’s annual compilation of concussion statistics for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, if available; and 4) All OSAA return-to-participation forms (or their equivalent) completed in the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, with appropriate privacy redactions made.
The request from InvestigateWest should be treated like any other public records request. The school should acknowledge receipt of the request within five (5) days of receiving the request and provide responsive documents within fifteen (15) days of receiving the request. Additional guidance regarding what needs to be in the school’s five and fifteen-day responses can be found here. The school should also look to see whether they have a policy regarding charging a fee for public records requests.
The first and second requests from InvestigateWest are straightforward, any relevant documents should be produced. This is a good reminder that the law requires schools to provide coaches with annual concussion training, so if the school is not already doing this, it should implement a program immediately.
The third and fourth requests will require more analysis before responsive records can be produced. The laws regarding student records do not allow a school to release records that may identify a particular student except in rare circumstances. If the school only had one concussion during the applicable years and that concussion was well known to the community, releasing statistics would identify the student and violate the student record laws. The same is true for return-to-participation forms. Enough information needs to be redacted from those forms so that a member of the community could not identify the student. That might mean that more than name and date of birth will need to be redacted from the form before it can be released. Depending on the ability to easily trace a student's identity, the district may need to redact at least some of the following information from the form before providing it to InvestigateWest:
Date of Birth
Grade (and perhaps school, depending on the number of incidents)
Date of Injury
Injury Details (and perhaps sport, depending on the number of incidents)
Date for completer signature
Date for Physician signature
If you have any questions about responding to a request from InvestigateWest, or responding to any other public records request, please contact OSBA Member Services Attorney Spencer Lewis, or 1-800-578-6722.