by Brittany Raymer
Digital Writer & Editor
How a growing number of school districts across the country are billing parents over records requests
Across the country, parents are increasingly turning to Freedom of Information (FOIA) requests in order to find out what’s happening behind-the-scenes in schools when it comes to Critical Race Theory (CRT), gender ideology and other curriculum issues. However, they’ve been stonewalled.
In what many see as an effort to conceal information from parents who want to know more about what’s going on inside the classroom, schools and districts are sometimes charging upwards of a million dollars to review emails and other communications.
The districts justify these costs to parents and the public by explaining that the expense, which most find excessive, offsets the number of man hours it takes to gather all the necessary information.
As reported initially by Fox News, the Oregon Department of Education told one parent that their request for email records would cost a staggering “$9,630 for 240.75 hours at $40/hr for managerial staff time.”
That seems high, but it’s actually rather cheap when compared to the $18 million Rochester, Michigan allegedly wanted to charge for a school records request.
This has even happened in North Carolina, where New Hanover County Schools decided to charge for any FOIA request. In one instance, the cost could have been $100,000 to print a request that resulted in 400,000 emails.
Parents have balked at paying for documentation from public funded school districts.
“If public information is priced outside of affordability, and it’s not really public information, it’s a government secret,” Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas told Fox News.
Due to the pandemic giving parents greater oversight over their children’s education and Twitter accounts like LibsofTikTok, parents and community members are increasingly concerned and alarmed about what is being taught in schools. There are also questions about whether some teachers are using their positions of authority to have undue influence over a child’s life while neglecting to teach them the basics, like reading, writing and arithmetic.
For example, LibsofTikTok recently posted a picture of a sign in a school in New Jersey that read: “If your parents aren’t accepting of your identity, I’m your mom now. #freemomhugs.”
From teaching CRT to hiding a child’s new gender identification from parents, trust in teachers and school officials has never been lower. Burdening parents with excessive fees for information requests of what should mostly be public record, makes parents question if there’s something more nefarious going on.
But families and legislators are beginning to fight back.
In North Carolina, a Parents’ Bill of Rights is currently being kicked around the legislature, where it currently sits in the House Rules Committee after passing the Senate. The bill gives parents the opportunity to review course material, and impose a timeline for when those requests must be fulfilled by the principal and school officials. Although it’s not identical to the Locke proposed Parents’ Bill of Rights, as Dr. Robert Luebke notes, it goes a long way in providing transparency and accountability.
If you support a Parents’ Bill of Rights in North Carolina, consider signing the John Locke Foundation’s petition here.