Freedom of Information

The Macon County Mental Health Board (the Board) is a public governmental body and required by law to provide public records to persons requesting public records unless those records are exempt from public disclosure by the State of Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) or any other relevant statute. The Board believes in open government and supports public access to its records. The Board shall comply with all State and Federal laws, rules/regulations and HIPAA requirements to safeguard confidential client information.

In accordance with the statute, the Board shall maintain three documents readily accessible for public viewing in the lobby of its offices at 132 S. Water St., Suite 604, Decatur, Illinois. The first document offers a brief description of the Board, its members and staff, activities and budget information. The second document is a list of all types or categories of records prepared or received after July 1, 1984. The third document outlines the process by which members of the public can request information and public records. It shall also contain the name and contact information of the FOIA coordinator and a fee schedule for duplication services. Each document is updated annually at the beginning of the fiscal year.

The policy contained in this document is intended to ensure uniformity of practice and procedures in the release of public records and in the fees charged for the cost of processing a request for public records.

General Information:

1. Most documents in the Board’s possession are public records subject to the State of Illinois’ FOIA, for which a disclosure determination is made by the FOIA Coordinator. This shall include documents in the Board’s possession that are created by another agency (e.g. Department of Human Services, etc.). However, documents which are possessed only by another agency or an entity under contract with the Board do not constitute the public records of the Board.

2. FOIA requests may be submitted in person during regular business hours (excluding holidays) or via mail, facsimile machine or electronic mail. Any request for a document shall be considered a FOIA request, regardless of whether the FOIA is mentioned. The requestor or a Board staff shall complete a standardized request form. The requestor shall be asked by Board staff to complete and sign the form. If the requestor refuses to complete the form he/she will be asked to sign a form completed by staff. The form shall include contact information, the date and the specific information being requested. A copy of the form shall be given to the requestor. Staff shall forward the request to the Board’s FOIA coordinator.

Board FOIA Coordinator

3. The Board’s Executive Director shall be the Board’s designated FOIA coordinator. As coordinator the Executive Director shall:

  • Respond to all FOIA requests – either with approval or denial.
  • Seek appropriate legal counsel and clearance as needed.
  • Respond to all questions related to any request.
  • Certify the records as being the ones requested and have the certification notarized.
  • Upon denial of a FOIA request, site the portion of the State Act that applies to the rejection.
  • Maintain a file of all FOIA requests.

Processing FOIA Requests

4. When a FOIA request is received by a Board employee, the individual making the request or the Board employee shall complete and sign the “Request for Information” form (see Attachment A). If the requestor refuses to complete the form he/she will be asked to sign a form completed by staff. A copy of the form will be given to the requestor. The form shall be immediately forwarded to the FOIA Coordinator. The FOIA Coordinator shall respond within seven working days of the receipt of the request.

5. Should circumstances make it necessary to extend the processing period beyond the initial seven working days, the statute allows for an additional 7 working days to complete the request. The Board represented by its designated FOIA coordinator shall notify by letter within the initial seven day period the person making the request of the reasons for the delay and the date by which the records shall be made available or denial shall be forthcoming. Specific allowable circumstances are outlined in Section 3(d)(i-vii) of the Illinois statute. Such circumstances include:

  • The requested records are stored in whole or in part at other locations than the office having charge of the requested records;
  • The request required the collection of a substantial number of specified records;
  • The request is couched in categorical terms and requires extensive search for the records responsive to it;
  • The requested records have not been located in the course of routine search and additional efforts are being made to locate them;
  • The requested records require examination and evaluation by personnel having the necessary competence and discretion to determine if they are exempt from disclosure under Section 7 of this Act or should be revealed only with appropriate deletions.
  • The request for records cannot be complied with by the public body within the time limits prescribed by subsection 3(c) without unduly burdening or interfering with the operations of the body; or
  • There is a need for consultation, which shall be conducted with all practicable speed, with another public body or among two or more components of a public body or among two or more components of a public body having a substantial interest in the determination or in the subject matter of the request.

6. The FOIA Coordinator shall review the request and determine whether the Board possesses non-exempt records responsive to the request.

  • The FOIA Coordinator shall be responsible for obtaining the requested documents that are in the Board’s possession. If the Board does not have the document requested, the Coordinator is not required to obtain it from outside the Board, including from another agency or an entity under contract with the Board, in order to comply with the request.
  • The FOIA Coordinator shall carefully review the documents obtained to ensure information and documents exempt from disclosure are not provided. Only those exemptions set forth in the FOIA shall be used. If more than one exemption applies to a particular request, all relevant exemptions shall be indicated on the form (see Attachment B – “Response to Request for Public Records – FOIA”) when responding to a FOIA request. An explanation of what was exempted shall be stated on the form.
  • If only a portion of the document is exempt, the exempt portion shall be deleted and the non-exempt portion of the document shall be disclosed. The FOIA Coordinator shall ensure exempt portions of a document are not legible on the copy provided.

Exemptions Under FOIA/Request Denial Protocol

7. While it is the Board’s desire to be as forthcoming as possible, it does recognize that some information may not be made available for public viewing. The Board shall safeguard client confidentiality and protect the interests of the citizens of Macon County. The Act provides certain exemptions that the Board shall adhere to.

8. Exemptions provided for in the Act are found in Section 7 and include:

  • Information specifically prohibited from disclosure by federal or State law or rules and regulations adopted under federal or State law.
  • Information that, if disclosed, would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy, unless the disclosure is consented to in writing by the individual subjects of the information. The disclosure of information that bears on the public duties of public employees under this subsection (b) shall include but is not limited to:
    • Files and personal information maintained with respect to clients, patients, residents, students or other individuals receiving social, medical, educational, vocational, financial, supervisory or custodial care or services directly or indirectly from federal agencies or public bodies;
    • Personnel files and personal information maintained with respect to employees, appointees or elected officials of any public body or applicants for those positions;
    • Files and personal information maintained with respect to any applicant, registrant or licensee by any public body cooperating with or engaged in professional or occupational registration, licensure or discipline;
    • Information required of any taxpayer in connection with the assessment or collection of any tax unless disclosure is otherwise required by State statute
    • Information revealing the identity of persons who file complaints with or provide information to administrative, investigative, law enforcement or penal agencies; provided, however, that identification of witnesses to traffic accidents, traffic accident reports, and rescue reports may be provided by agencies of local government, except in a case for which a criminal investigation is ongoing, without constituting a clearly unwarranted per se invasion of personal privacy under this subsection; and
    • The names, addresses, or other personal information of participants and registrants in park district, forest preserve district, and conservation district programs.
  • Records compiled by any public body for administrative enforcement proceedings and any law enforcement or correctional agency for law enforcement purposes or for internal matters of a public body, but only to the extent that disclosure would:
    • Interfere with pending or actually and reasonably contemplated law enforcement proceedings conducted by any law enforcement or correctional agency;
    • Interfere with pending administrative enforcement proceedings conducted by any public body;
    • Deprive a person of a fair trial or an impartial hearing;
    • Unavoidably disclose the identity of a confidential source or confidential information furnished only by a confidential source;
    • Disclose unique or specialized investigative techniques other than those generally used and known or disclose internal documents of correctional agencies related to detection, observation or investigation of incidents of crime or misconduct;
    • Constitute an invasion of personal privacy under subsection (b) of this Section;
    • Endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement personnel or any other person; or
    • Obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation.
  • Criminal history record information maintained by State or local criminal justice agencies, except the following which shall be open for public inspection and copying:
    • Chronologically maintained arrest information, such as traditional arrest logs or blotters;
    • The name of a person in the custody of a law enforcement agency and the charges for which that person is being held;
    • Court records that are public;
    • Records that are otherwise available under State or local; or
    • Records in which the requesting party is the individual identified, except as provided under part (vii) of paragraph (c) of subsection (1) of this Section.
    • “Criminal history record information: means data identifiable to any individual and consisting of descriptions or notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, information, pre-trial proceedings, trials, or other formal events in the criminal justice system or descriptions or notations of criminal charges (including criminal violations of local municipal ordinances) and the nature of any disposition arising there from including sentencing, court or correctional supervision, rehabilitation and release. The term does not apply to statistical records and reports in which individuals are not identified and from which their identities are not ascertainable, or to information that is for criminal investigative or intelligence purposes.
  • Records that relate to or affect the security of correctional institutions and detention facilities.
  • Preliminary drafts, notes, recommendations, memoranda and other records in which opinions are expressed, or policies or actions are formulated, except that a specific record or relevant portion of a record shall not be exempt when the record is publicly cited and identified by the head of the public body. The exemption provided in this paragraph (f) extends to all those records of officers and agencies of the General Assembly that pertain to the preparation of legislative documents
  • Trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person or business where the trade secrets or information are proprietary, privileged or confidential, or where disclosure of the trade secrets or information may cause competitive harm, including all information determined to be confidential under Section 4002 of the Technology Advancement and Development Act. Nothing contained in this paragraph (g) shall be construed to prevent a person or business from consenting to disclosure.
  • Proposals and bids for any contract, grant, or agreement, including information which if it were disclosed would frustrate procurement of give an advantage to any person proposing to enter into a contractor agreement with the body, until an award or final selection is made. Information prepared by or for the body in preparation of a bid solicitation shall be exempt until an award or final selection is made.
  • Valuable formulae, computer geographic systems, designs, drawings and research data obtained or produced by any public body when disclosure could reasonably be expected to produce private gain or public loss. The exemption for “computer geographic systems” provided in this paragraph (i) does not extend to requests made by news media as defined in Section 2 of this Act when the requested information is not otherwise exempt and the only purpose of the request is to access and disseminate information regarding the health, safety, welfare, or legal rights of the general public.
  • Test questions, scoring keys and other examination data used to administer an academic examination or determined the qualifications of an applicant for a license or employment.
  • Architect’s plans, engineers’ technical submissions, and other construction related technical documents for projects not constructed or developed in whole or in part with public funds and the same for projects constructed or developed with public funds, but only to the extent that disclosure would compromise security, including but not limited to water treatment facilities, airport facilities, sport stadiums, convention centers, and all government owned, operated or occupied buildings.
  • Library circulation and order records identifying library users with specific materials.
  • Minutes of meetings of public bodies closed to the public as provided in the Open Meetings Act until the public body makes the minutes available to the public under Section 2.06 of the Open Meetings Act.
  • Communications between a public body and an attorney or auditor representing the public body that would not be subject to discovery in litigation, and materials prepared or compiled by or for a public body in anticipation of a criminal, civil or administrative proceeding upon the request of an attorney advising the public body, and materials prepared or compiled with respect to internal audits of public bodies.
  • Information received by a primary or secondary school, college or university under its procedures for the evaluation of faculty members by their academic peers.
  • Administrative or technical information associated with automated data processing operations, including but not limited to software, operating protocols, computer program abstracts, file layouts, source listings, object modules, load modules, user guides, documentation pertaining to all logical and physical design of computerized systems, employee manuals, and any other information that, if disclosed, would jeopardize the security of the system or its data or the security of materials exempt under this Section.
  • Documents or materials relating to collective negotiating matters between public bodies and their employees or representatives, except that any final contract or agreement shall be subject to inspection and copying.
  • Drafts, notes, recommendations and memoranda pertaining to the financing and marketing transactions of the public body. The records of ownership, registration, transfer, and exchange of municipal debt obligations, and of person to whom payment with respect to these obligations is made.
  • The records, documents and information relating to real estate purchase negotiations until those negotiations have been completed or otherwise terminated. With regard to a parcel involved in a pending or actually and reasonably contemplated eminent domain proceeding under Article VII of the Code of Civil Procedure, records, documents and information relating to that parcel shall be exempt except as may be allowed under discovery rules adopted by the Illinois Supreme Court. The records, documents and information relating to a real estate sale shall be exempt until a sale is consummated.
  • Any and all proprietary information and records related to the operation of an intergovernmental risk management association or self-insurance pool or jointly self-administered health and accident cooperative or pool.
  • Information concerning a university’s adjudication of student or employee grievance or disciplinary cases, to the extent that disclosure would reveal the identity of the student or employee and information concerning any public body’s adjudication of student or employee grievances or disciplinary cases, except for the final outcome of the cases.
  • Course materials or research materials used by faculty members.
  • Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of a public body.
  • Information contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of a public body responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions or insurance companies, unless disclosure is otherwise required by State law.
  • Information the disclosure of which is restricted under Section 5-108 of the Public Utilities Act.
  • Manuals or instruction to staff that relate to establishment or collection of liability for any State tax or that relate to investigations by a public body to determine violation of any criminal law.
  • Applications, related documents, and medical records received by the Experimental Organ Transplantation Procedures Board and any and all documents or other record prepared by the Experimental Organ Transplantation Procedures Board or its staff relating to applications it has received.
  • Insurance or self-insurance (including any intergovernmental risk management association or self insurance pool) claims, loss or risk management information, records, data, advice or communications.
  • Information and records held by the Department of Public Health and its authorized representatives relating to known or suspected cases of sexually transmissible disease or any information the disclosure of which is restricted under the Illinois Sexually Transmissible Disease Control Act.
  • Information the disclosure of which is exempted under Section 30 of the Radon Industry Licensing Act.
  • Firm performance evaluations under Section 55 of the Architectural, Engineering, and Land Surveying Qualifications Based Selection Act.
  • Security portions of system safety program plans, investigation reports, surveys, schedules, lists, data, or information compiled, collected, or prepared by or for the Regional Transportation Authority under Section 2.11 of the Regional Transportation Authority Act or the St. Clair County Transit District under the Bi-State Transit Safety Act.
  • Information the disclosure of which is restricted and exempted under Section 50 of the Illinois Prepaid Tuition Act.
  • Information the disclosure of which is restricted and exempted under the State Officials and Employees Ethics Act.
  • Beginning July 1, 1999, information that would disclose or might lead to the disclosure of secret or confidential information, codes, algorithms, programs, or private keys intended to be used to create electronic or digital signatures under the Electronic Commerce Security Act.
  • Information contained in a local emergency energy plan submitted to a municipality in accordance with a local emergency energy plan ordinance that is adopted under Section 11-21.5-5 of the Illinois Municipal Code.
  • Information and data concerning the distribution of surcharge moneys collected and remitted by wireless carriers under the Wireless Emergency Telephone Safety Act.
  • Vulnerability assessments, security measures, and response policies or plans that are designed to identify, prevent, or respond to potential attacks upon a community’s population or systems, facilities, or installations, the destruction or contamination of which would constitute a clear and present danger to the health or safety of the community, but only to the extent that disclosure could reasonably be expected to jeopardize the effectiveness of the measure of the safety of the personnel who implement them or the public. Information exempt under this item may include such things as details pertaining to the mobilization or deployment of personnel or equipment, to the operation of communication systems or protocols, or to tactical operations.
  • Maps and other records regarding the location or security of a utility’s generation, transmission, distribution, storage, gathering, treatment, or switching facilities.
  • Law enforcement officer identification information or driver identification information compiled by a law enforcement agency or the Department of Transportation under Section 11-212 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.
  • Records and information provided to a residential health care facility resident sexual assault and death review team or the Residential Health Care Facility Resident Sexual Assault and Death Review Teams Executive Council under the Residential Health Care Facility Resident Sexual Assault and Death Review Team Act.

9. Should part or all of the information requested be exempt from the Act, the FOIA Coordinator shall indicate on the “Response…” form the specific reason(s) for the denial of the request. A copy of the response form shall be kept in a single file within the Board’s general operational files, maintained by the Board’s administrative assistant, and indexed according to the type of exemption asserted and, to the extent feasible, according to the types of records requested. This file is open to the public for inspection.

10. A requestor whose request has been denied in full or in part may appeal the denial in writing to the President of the Macon County Mental Health Board. The appeal shall state the word “appeal” and identify the reason or reasons for the reversal of the denial. The President may reverse the initial denial determination or uphold the initial denial determination or a combination thereof. The President shall respond in writing to the appeal within seven working days.

Preparation and Delivery of Requested Items:

11. Following the review and approval of the request by the FOIA Coordinator, the Coordinator shall direct staff to assemble the requested information. Electronic data shall be provided in printed form that is comprehensible to persons lacking knowledge of computer language or printout format. Staff shall record the number of photocopies. The Board shall charge the requestor $0.15 per page. Staff shall give the copies to the FOIA Coordinator who shall make sure that all of the requested and approved information is present and that no exempted materials are included. If the duplication costs will exceed $5.00 staff will phone the requester and inform him/her of the cost. This information and the requestor’s response will be recorded in a letter and sent to the requestor confirming the agreement.

12. In cases where a fee shall be charged, the FOIA request shall be approved specifying the amount assessed and indicating that the documents shall be provided after payment is received in full. If the amount assessed shall exceed $50, exclusive of any waived amounts, a 50% deposit shall be required before processing of the request begins. Upon completion of the processing, the balance must be paid before the documents are delivered to the requestor.

13. The FOIA also requires that at the request of the person making the request, a reasonable opportunity for inspection of non-exempt public documents shall be allowed during normal business hours. The FOIA Coordinator must remove exempt material prior to the inspection. There is no charge for inspection of documents, although a fee may be charged if it is necessary to make a copy of a document in order to delete a portion that is exempt.