School districts across the nation are employing a dirty little tactic to keep information about objectional content out of parents’ hands, critics say.
Some districts are requiring exorbitant fees – from thousands to even millions of dollars – to fulfill records requests for information parents are legally entitled to.
Many of these parents are seeking information about Critical Race Theory-inspired curricula and radical gender ideology, subjects that many schools don’t want to talk about, according to reports from around the nation gathered this week by Fox News Digital.
In Maryland, a parent requested emails from Frederick County Public Schools spanning just a one-month period – a request the district claimed would cost $5,000. “I never got the [records] because that’s well beyond what I’m willing to pay for information my tax dollars already paid for,” the mother said.
Far worse, one parent in Rochester, Michigan said the school district threatened to charge her $18 million for her request. “I don’t know what they’re hiding, but they’re definitely hiding information,” the parent told local media. “Why make it so difficult for parents to get (public records) if they don’t have something to hide?”
Another parent in the district shared a screenshot with Fox News Digital showing the school’s proposed fee of $172,951, half of which would need to be paid to merely begin fulfilling the request.
After parents complained in Oregon, the state’s department of education told them to “narrow their requests” for less expensive results. But after being handed a fee of $1,525, one parent in the district responded, “How could I narrow my request? Is this not a single document? … I do not understand what you mean by narrowing or how 1 document costs $1,525 to download and email to me. Or why 3 hours of time is needed by IT to again download 1 document and email it?”
In the case of Rhode Island mother Nicole Solas, when her curriculum question regarding her kindergartner went unanswered, her “last resort” information request resulted in a bill for $74,000.
“I don’t think [this fee] is reasonable under any circumstances,” Solas’ attorney, Jon Riches, told Fox News Digital. “There shouldn’t be a formal public records process. The district should put that information up on a publicly available website so parents and their kids can make informed decisions.”
On top of the enormous fee, Solas was then hit with a lawsuit by the National Education Association, one of the two big teachers’ unions in the United States. Her attorney called the suit a “pure intimidation tactic to tell parents that [the unions] know what’s best for their kids.”
“If public information is priced outside of affordability and it’s not really public information,” Solas reasoned, “it’s a government secret.”