The Goodrich Mich district wants parents to pay more than 77000 for a records search involving their son

The Goodrich (Mich.) district wants parents to pay more than $77,000 for a records search involving their son.

Freedom of Information isn't free, Michigan district says

Goodrich district bills parents $77,000 for records search involving their son.

A Goodrich, Mich., woman filed a records request for school e-mails regarding her son, but the school district says she'll have to pay $77,178.15 to get the information she asked for.

The Flint Journal reports that the Goodrich school district wants to charge Sherry Smith that amount for searching through its electronic records and providing documents involving her son.

District Superintendent Michelle Imbrunone says the cost was so high because cutbacks in recent years among staff meant that the district had to contract an employee to search through its records.

Sherry Smith filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in late May, looking for emails sent between April 2014 to the present regarding her son, or his initials, "but not limited to emails between Goodrich Area Schools employees, Genesee Intermediate School District employees, Michigan Department of Education employees, etc."

Smith requested the records because she disagreed with an individualized education program (IEP) that called for her son to attend the Genesee Intermediate School District's Transition Center after his graduation in 2015. Smith's son has an intellectual disability, she says, but he has been in mainstream classrooms throughout his days in K-12 education.

After Smith filed a FOIA request, Imbrunone told her the work would cost her more than $77,000 "based on a check of the volume of message traffic and scan of activity from the logs of information available (including all deleted emails) over the past 14 months that could be relevant to your request."

The Smiths would have to put a 50 percent deposit down toward the estimated total.

FOIA law in Michigan states a public body "shall not charge more than the hourly wage of its lowest-paid employee capable of searching for, locating, and examining the public records in the particular instance regardless of whether that person is available or who actually performs the labor."

The district may hire a contracted employee, according to the state law, but "costs shall not exceed an amount equal to 6 times the state minimum hourly wage rate."

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