HCPSS MPIA Request #2023-094

Nicholas Jacobs
Edge Point
Requested Information
An accounting of all outstanding and returned checks which remain stale and/or remain outstanding from 1-1-19 to present.
-Field Values requested: Payee name, date and/or year, amount, check number and address check was mailed to.
Date Received
Response Notes

Responsive to this request, following initial notification of several exemptions under the MPIA that prohibit the release of much of the information sought, including:

  • Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), which restricts access to student records, and MPIA GP § 4-313, which prevents disclosure of school district records pertaining to individual students, we are unable to release information regarding any outstanding or returned checks related to payment to parents;
  • Under MPIA GP § 4-336, which prevents disclosure of portions of a record that contains information about the finances of an individual including assets, we are unable to release the amount of each check if issued to an individual/non-contractual entity. Specifically, per 77 Opinions of the Attorney General 188, records that identifies the value of abandoned property constitutes personal financial information; and
  • Under MPIA GP § 4-331 which prevents disclosure of the home address of a public employee, and MPIA GP § 4-330 which prevents the release of sociological information including the personal address of payees, we will be unable to release home/personal address that checks may have been mailed to,

staff continued to review available data on unclaimed funds/checks. Per Maryland’s Abandoned Property Act, specifically Commercial Law Article §17–310, entities are required to report information on unclaimed funds and property to the Comptroller of Maryland annually. However, as noted on Maryland’s unclaimed property website: https://www.marylandtaxes.gov/unclaimed-property/general-information.php (see the dropdown for unclaimed property lists):

The Comptroller is prohibited from disclosing social security numbers, the dollar amount, information related to the property type, information related to the holder, and financial notes, as this information constitutes confidential individual financial information which may not be disclosed according to Md. Code Ann., General Provisions Article (GP) §4-335. Additionally, under Md. Code Ann., Commercial Law, Section §17-311(b)(2) only a person in interest may obtain information about the amount or description of the property and the name and address of the person who held the property.

As such, we are denying your request to obtain the report submitted by the school system as the holder and the data used to create the report under MPIA §4-335 as confidential commercial information. This same website has procedures to obtain a list of what the Comptroller is able to make public, which falls within their authority under the statute noted above.

*Some request language is summarized to include the requester's specific document requests and legally protected information (such as personally identifiable information of a student) or personal, defamatory and malicious content removed at the discretion of the school system.

**Responses containing legally protected information available only to the person of interest are omitted from the above report.

***Howard County Public Schools reserves the right to remove erroneous or outdated documents from this site.