Right to Know Requests
How to File a Request
A requester can file a Right-to-Know request in four ways:
- Fax 724-656-3503
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
- U.S. Mail 230 N. Jefferson Street New Castle, PA 16101
- In Person 230 N. Jefferson Street New Castle PA 16101
When submitting a request to the Agency, always retain a copy for your file. A copy of this RTK request would be necessary if you should need to file an appeal to our Office upon denial. If you do not have a copy of the actual request, your appeal will be dismissed as insufficient.
The Right to Know Office for the City of New Castle is Stephanie Dean. Right to Know Request Form (pdf)
Make sure your request for records is specific and concise. Identify as specifically as you can the records you want, so that an agency can quickly locate them and determine whether they are public record.
- Right-to-Know Law Request Form PDF WORD
- Right-to-Know Law
- Requesting Police Recordings
- How To File An Appeal
- Office of Open Records’ Website
- Office of Open Records’ Fee Schedule
- Office of Open Records Advisory Opinions
- Frequently Asked Questions
What to Expect from the Agency
An Agency has five business days to respond in writing to: (1) grant the request; (2) deny the request, citing the legal basis for the denial or partial denial; or (3) invoke a 30-calendar day extension for certain reasons.
The clock starts the day after the RTK request is received during regular business hours. In other words, an agency has five business days to respond to a request, whether you place the request in person or by mail.
Acceptable grounds for a 30-calendar day extension include: off-site location of records, staffing limitations, need for legal review or redaction, complex request, or the requester did not pay applicable fees as required or failed to follow agency policy.
If an agency does not respond to a request in the allotted time, the request is deemed denied, and you have the right to file an appeal with the Office of Open Records
How to File an Appeal
If an Agency denies a record, or a portion of a record, the requester has a right to file an appeal with the Office of Open Records.
The appeal must be submitted to the Office of Open Records within 15 business days of the mailing date of the Agency’s response. Appeals should be sent to the Office of Open Records, 333 Market Street, 16th Floor, Harrisburg, PA 17101-2234. They may also be submitted via facsimile to 717-425-5343 or via email as a Microsoft Word or PDF attachment.
All appeals must be in writing and shall include the following information that may be submitted using the OOR’s Appeal Form:
- A copy of the original Right-to-Know Request.
- A copy of the denial letter submitted by the Agency. (If the agency does not respond in writing within five business days, the request is “deemed denied” [i.e., automatically denied] and can be appealed.)
- State the grounds you believe the record is a public record – you must state why you believe the requested record is a public record – a general statement that the record is public under the Right-to-Know Law is insufficient.
- Address all grounds that the Agency raised in its denial – you must state why you believe each of the agency’s denial, arguments, and exemptions are incorrect – a general statement that the agency is incorrect is insufficient.
The Office of Open Records is required to dismiss any appeal that does not include this information.
NOTE: Appeals which are filed by hard copy (i.e., by mail) MUST be submitted on 8 ½ x 11 or 8 ½ x 14 inch paper. Failure to submit hard copy appeals on 8 ½ x 11 or 8 ½ x 14 inch paper will result in the appeal being DISMISSED, unless the party filing the document specifically seeks and is granted permission to file non-conforming papers. Any other documents filed in an appeal should be filed on 8 ½ x 11 or 8 ½ x 14 inch paper to the extent possible.
When the Office of Open Records receives the appeal, it has 30 days from the date of receipt of the appeal to issue a Final Determination.
The Office of Open Records may conduct a hearing (which is a non-appealable decision) or an in camera review. It may decide the case on the basis of the information filed with the Office. It may seek additional information from the involved parties. In most cases, the Office of Open Records will issue a Final Determination based on information and evidence provided to our Office without conducting a hearing.
When the Office of Open Records issues a Final Determination it is binding on the Agency and requester. If the Agency or the requester wants to appeal the ruling of the Office of Open Records, the appeal must be filed with the appropriate court within 30 calendar days of the mailing of the Final Determination by the Office.
If the parties appeal a Final Determination to Commonwealth Court or a Court of Common Pleas, the Right-to-Know Law requires that the Office of Open Records be served notice of the appeal.
The fee for a standard 8.5″ x 11″ black and white document is up to 25 cents per page. See the RTKL Fee Structure for more details.
- Postage fees may not exceed the actual cost of mailing.
- If an Agency offers enhanced electronic access it can establish user fees that must be approved by the Office of Open Records.
- An Agency cannot charge for the time it takes to redact a document or the legal review needed to determine if a document is a public record.
- An Agency may require pre-payment if the fees are expected to exceed $100.
- An Agency may withhold public records if you have not paid for previous requested records.