Members of the Bradley County School System will not comply with an open records request unless The Tennessee Star pays them $362.54.
This week The Star submitted open records requests to officials at several school districts throughout Tennessee. Specifically, we requested copies of any emails any school principals sent since Jan. 1 of this calendar year that mentioned vouchers, Educations Savings Accounts, or Senate Bill 795. Bradley was one of several county school districts The Star contacted.
Members of the Tennessee General Assembly are currently debating the bill. As The Star reported, SB795 is Republican Gov. Bill Lee’s Education Savings Account bill.
In an emailed statement, Director of Schools Linda Cash said that by Tennessee law a records custodian may require payment for actual costs incurred in making copies of public records.
“It has been determined that the cost to produce the records you requested is estimated at $362.54,” Cash wrote.
“This letter should also serve as notification that upon receipt of payment, additional time will be necessary to ensure that any confidential information contained within the requested documents has been removed. The review of the records for confidential information may take at least three days.”BUTLER_TNStar-records-request-cost-estimate_4-19-19
Cash did not immediately respond to our follow-up request for comment Friday.
The Star asked her how she and her employees determined it would cost $362 to comply with our request.
The Star has sought out an opinion from the Tennessee Open Records Counsel on the matter.
As reported, Etowah City School Principal Brian Trammell recently emailed his teachers and staff and urged them to lobby against the school vouchers’ bill up for consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly.
The law prohibits state employees from engaging in political activity on the job.
An email Trammell sent to his staff members on April 11 — a Thursday at 11:13 a.m. — was a call to action.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Linda Cash” and background photo by Bradley County Schools.