Private Emails No Longer Private for Public Officials in Kansas

By Jolyn Johnston-Myers
July 26, 2016

McPherson’s school board last night was reminded of the Kansas Open Records Act that was reformed and signed into law in May of this year.  

“Senate Bill 22 says that any of your communication, whether you do it on a school devise or your personal device, is an open record and is subject to the Open Records Act,” explained Gordon Mohn, Director of Operations with USD 418. “So if you think about what’s going on in the national media about your home server and computer, the same way here.”

This new law affects not only Kansas public school teachers and administrators, but all public officials in the state of Kansas.

“If the press would request to see your emails regarding something, you’re obligated to do it,” Mohn said. “If you do it on a school computer, or if you do it on your personal computer or your personal iphone, any of those things.”

The new law makes clear that private e-mails sent by public officials are subject to disclosure under the open-records law if they pertain to public business. It was initiated in response to a leak to lobbyists last year from the Kansas budget director regarding Governor Brownback’s proposed budget. The main purpose of the law is to shift the focus away from the location of a message to the actual content and whether or not it pertains to public business.

More information about the Kansas Open Records Act can be found at the links below: