While many exceptions apply to access to public information, the general rule as per the Texas Government code is as follows:
Sec. 552.002. DEFINITION OF PUBLIC INFORMATION; MEDIA CONTAINING PUBLIC INFORMATION. (a) In this chapter, “public information” means information that is written, produced, collected, assembled, or maintained under a law or ordinance or in connection with the transaction of official business:
(1) by a governmental body;
(2) for a governmental body and the governmental body:
(A) owns the information;
(B) has a right of access to the information; or
(C) spends or contributes public money for the purpose of writing, producing, collecting, assembling, or maintaining the information; or
(3) by an individual officer or employee of a governmental body in the officer’s or employee’s official capacity and the information pertains to official business of the governmental body.
What does this mean for school employees? As you are likely aware, school districts are sub entities of the State of Texas and thus government employees. Therefore, any record created in the capacity as an employee is subject to the Texas Open Records Act.
But what if it is on your personal device? Recently the Texas legislature dealt with this issue and amended the Government code § 552.004 (see below) to include your personal email or even text messages on your personal device. You are now required to either forward official business conducted on your personal device to your district’s server for proper record maintenance or maintain it on your personal device. Keep in mind that the provisions pertaining to the retention or destruction of public records applies.
Government Code §552.004
(b) A current or former officer or employee of a governmental body who maintains public information on a privately owned device shall:
(1) forward or transfer the public information to the governmental body or a governmental body server to be preserved as provided by Subsection (a); or
(2) preserve the public information in its original form on the privately owned device for the time described under Subsection (a).
(c) The provisions of Chapter 441 of this code and Title 6, Local Government Code, governing the preservation, destruction, or other disposition of records or public information apply to records and public information held by a temporary custodian.