How Much Should One Be Charged for Open Records in Texas? Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas


How Much Should One Be Charged for Open Records in Texas?

18 December 2009 at 11:17:02 AM

I had attended a GRISD school board meeting in which Wayne Rotan discussed with the other board members the possiblity they might have to hire a public information officer to handle all the open records requests coming in.

GRISD has changed their procedure of how they have decided to charge for open records, on how much time it actually takes them to fulfill the request. It's not clear to me if a simple email asking "what's the status" warrants gettnig a charge time of one hour or what, but I have written to GRISD asking them to clarify how they are charging time. We do contend that as online news, we shouldn't be subject to these restrictions and will contest this should it get to that point.

Previously, re: my open records requests on August 24 2009, I found that there was time charged against the requests. I disagreed with the idea of this and challenged the charges. When I did, GRISD dropped the money  charges but began their new procedure of charging time. LETTER BACK TO GRISD FROM AG HERE. I haven't heard a status on this, but basically GRISD has been told to document the procedures taken, step by step.  (For example, why was an hour of time charged for sending, via email, an already prepared PDF file of a presentation that required NO redaction? For me, it takes less then 10 seconds to send a document).

I recently did an open records request asking for a log of which open records requests have actually been made since January 1, 2008. Notice that there are a number of requests done by companies wanting lists of kids to, presumably, sell stuff to. When a parent signs permission for their child(ren) to be included in a directory, they open themselves up as a marketing or military recruitment tool.

What's interesting to me is that, even though I have only one open records request open in this fiscal year, I am being charged time of 12 hours and 40 minutes. (tThe One hours and 5 minutes, below, is for the log of open records request. I have to assume that GRISD does not keep such a log, even though part of  the log was presented to board members in a recent meeting?

   **Please note--- Glen Rose ISD spent  1 hour and 5 minutes complying with this request for information.   The District has spent 12 hours and 40 minutes complying with your requests since the beginning of the 2009-2010 fiscal year on September 1, 2009.

I have written back as of 12/7/2009 to ask exactly how that 12 hours and 40 minutes has been applied.

Quick question. YOu say that the district has spent 12 hours and 40 minutes complying with requests since Sept 1, 2009. Are you saying that merely sending an email inquiring as to the status of an open records request is being *charged* for time?  Or asking where the check register is on the website? If so, would you please provide a breakdown of how you are charging time against these questions so I can verify that this is appropriate with the attorney general (aside from the most recent request where the time is broken down).
#1 & #3 of her 8/24/09-- Where they going to be sent out
to teachers & staff?
Was search done from server where emails are stored?
Questions about where September check register is
posted on the website
Is open record request of 8/24/2009 still being researched
by the Attorney General's office?
List of open records requests that have been made since
January 2008. Format/ Date who requested; short
Received on
descriptive title of what was asked for
Incidentally, although I wouldn't think I should have time charged against me for asking about it, I have not yet gotten a reply from the school re: the rest of the open records request from August 24, 2009, although I have not checked the post office in the last two days.

It's just hard to imagine that 12 + hours was spent answering email.

I recently saw, via Texas Watchdog, a reference to an article from theCorpus Christi Times in which government agencies are nearly doubling their requests to withhold public information.

“There is really not a question in my mind, after years of hard experience, that a large number of governing bodies utilize the request for a ruling simply to delay the release of information,” he said. “These numbers underscore that.”

I also wonder if the new *charging hours* policy is one of those attempts to delay release of information. It's entirely a shame. I mean, what reason should a school district have for not immediately letting the requestor know about email retention and deletion policies? Or finding WHO made the decision, in writing, without school board okay, to give teachers an extra *off* hour? It sure seems like the waste of money and time is coming from GRISD.

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Latest Blog Post by salon -Video- Somervell County Commissioners Court Special Sessions (2) Dec 23 2019
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1 - salon   22 Dec 2009 @ 7:10:01 PM 

Update: I spoke to the AG's office the other day and the reason that GRISD has not replied with their step by step is that apparently somehow they didn't get the registered letter, same as I did, from the AG. That certainly explains why I have had no reply on this yet; the AG's office said they will be faxing the letter next week after the holidays subside a little.

Latest Blog Post by salon -Video- Somervell County Commissioners Court Special Sessions (2) Dec 23 2019
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