A Capehart Scatchard Blog

OPRA Deadlines Relaxed Amid Declared Emergencies

Editor: Sanmathi (Sanu) Dev, Esq.

As a result of the public health crisis of COVID-19, on March 20, 2020, Governor Murphy signed Assembly Bill No. 3849 into law which modifies the deadline by which public agencies are required to respond to requests for government records during the period of a declared emergency.  Normally, under the Open Public Records Act (“OPRA”), the custodian of records for public agencies has seven (7) business days to respond to a request made for government records by either granting access to the government record or by denying access.  Failure to respond within the seven (7) business days is deemed a denial of the request.  A custodian of records is also required to notify a requestor within the timeframe if a record is archived and/or in storage and explain when the records may be available.  In addition, under the current law, access to certain records, such as budgets, bills, vouchers, contracts and public employee salary information must be granted immediate access.

The March 20, 2020 amendment permits a relaxation of the timelines for responding to an OPRA request.  Specifically, during a State declared emergency, public health emergency, or state of local disaster emergency, the custodian of a government record must make a reasonable effort, as the circumstances permit, to respond to a request for access to a government record within seven business days or as soon as possible thereafter. 

This amendment is particularly pertinent amongst the current State declared emergency and public health crisis of COVID-19. 


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About the Author

About the Author:

Lauren E. Tedesco-Dallas, Esq. is a shareholder with the firm and concentrates her practice on the representation of boards of education and charter schools in all areas of school law including: labor and employment, special education, Section 504, student discipline, FERPA, Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights Act, student residency, civil rights, tenure, OPRA, OPMA, and teaching staff tenure matters under TEACHNJ and ACHIEVENJ.


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