Section 16-22-14

Personnel records of education employees.

(a) Definitions. When used in this section, the following words shall have the following meanings:

(1) EMPLOYEE. Any person employed by a school board.

(2) EXECUTIVE OFFICER. The superintendent of any public county or city school system; the President of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind; the president of any two-year school or college under the auspices of the State Board of Education; the Superintendent of the Department of Youth Services School District; the Executive Director of the Alabama School of Fine Arts; and the Executive Director of the Alabama High School of Mathematics and Science.

(3) LOCAL EDUCATION AGENCY PERSONNEL SYSTEM (LEAPS). The data base established and maintained by the Alabama Department of Education for record keeping of all data related to certificated and non-certificated personnel at each board of education.

(4) PERSONNEL AND ENROLLMENT REPORTING SYSTEM (PERS). The data base established and maintained by the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education for record keeping of all data related to personnel and enrollment at postsecondary institutions.

(5) PERSONNEL RECORD. All records, information, data, or materials pertaining to an employee kept by the executive officer of the school board or other employees of the school board in any form or retrieval system whatsoever.

(6) SCHOOL BOARD or BOARD OF EDUCATION or BOARD. As applied to employees in the public schools, grade kindergarten through grade 12, any county or city board of education; the Board of Trustees of the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind; the Alabama Youth Services Board in its capacity as the Board of Education for the Youth Services School District; the Board of Directors of the Alabama School of Fine Arts; the Board of Directors of the Alabama High School of Mathematics and Science; and, as applied to two-year postsecondary education institutions only, the State Board of Education.

(b) Establishment and maintenance of records. Each board shall establish and maintain a personnel file on each employee. It shall be the responsibility of the executive officer of each school board to supervise the maintenance of personnel files and to maintain updated, complete, and accurate records.

(c) Employee access and response. The employee, or any person designated in writing by the employee, may, upon request, review all of the contents in his or her personnel file and receive copies of any documents contained in the file. No document shall be withheld from the employee or his or her representative. A representative of the employee may accompany him or her during the personnel file review. The employee may answer or object in writing to any material in his or her file and the answer or objection shall be attached to the appropriate material.

(d) Public access. This section is supplemental to the statutes which apply to the public's access to government records. Public access to school personnel files is affirmed subject to the privacy rights rulings of the various federal and state courts.

(e) Work performance records. Any materials pertaining directly to work performance may be placed in the record of the employee and a copy of the materials shall be provided to the employee. Statements, reports, and comments relating to work performance, disciplinary action against the employee, suspension of the employee, or dismissal of the employee shall be reduced to writing and signed by a person reasonably competent to know the facts or make a judgment as to the accuracy of the subject information. Additional information related to the written materials previously placed in the personnel file may be attached to the material to clarify or amplify them as needed. A copy of all materials to be placed in an employee's record which may tend to diminish the employee's professional or work status or reflect adversely on the employee's record of performance or character shall be provided to the employee.

(f) Anonymous materials. Any anonymous complaint or material received by a school official shall be immediately transmitted to the executive officer. If the material is deemed worthy of an investigation by the executive officer, it may be investigated. The results of the investigation shall be reduced to writing, signed by the executive officer, principal, or other designated official in charge of the complaint, dated, attached to the material in question, and placed in the personnel file of the employee. Any anonymous complaint which is not investigated within 30 calendar days of its receipt by the executive officer shall not be retained, but shall be destroyed.

(g) Transfer of information. Notwithstanding any other provision in this section to the contrary, the following provisions shall apply:

(1) The transfer of the personnel file or any parts, summation, or copies of the personnel file of the employee shall be effectuated upon the written request of the employee.

(2) The employer may transfer an employee's personnel file or copies or parts thereof to another employer or prospective employer.

(3) The provisions contained in Section 16-22-6 shall remain in effect. Payroll deductions which the employee has authorized shall continue effective.

(4) Any documents which may be lawfully contained in the personnel file of an employee shall be made available to a lawfully authorized hearing officer or panel conducting an investigation into the competency or performance of the employee, and to all appropriate law enforcement officials. Statistical information on employees and former employees may be transmitted to the Department of Archives and History and to the State Department of Education for historical research and information.

(h) Policies. Written policies established by a school board pertaining to personnel files which are not inconsistent with this section may remain in effect, consistent with Section 16-1-30.

(i) This section shall be implemented by each school board no later than September 1, 1998.

(Act 98-374, p. 703, §§1, 3.)