FOIA

School System Wants $77K from Michigan Mom to Fulfill Her FOIA Request | Updated!

Sherry Smith just wants to know how the school system decided on placement for her special-needs son.

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Mitchell Smith
Courtesy of Sherry Smith

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is supposed to make getting documents from the government straightforward. But a Goodrich, Michigan, mom named Sherry Smith is finding out just how crooked the process can be. When she filed a FOIA request for educational records related to her son, Mitchell, the school system told her there would be a hefty price tag—to wit, $77,718.75.

Mitchell has an intellectual disability, which means the state will pay for his education until he turns 26. Having just finished high school, he and his family found a program at a local college they felt was just right for him.

"They would continue special services, life skills, employment skills, all the services that he needed and that he was receiving throughout his entire K–12 school career," says Sherry, "and it includes the academic component, which Mitchell strongly desires." Even more important was that Mitchell would be mainstreamed—"participating fully in his general-ed classes along with his peers," as Sherry put it.

But Goodrich Area Schools denied the Smiths' request, instead recommending placement in a segregated program. Since Mitchell had been mainstreamed since kindergarten, the Smiths couldn't understand the school system's decision.

In hopes of gaining some insight, Sherry filed a FOIA request asking for any email communication regarding her son. The school system's response? Per a letter from Superintendent Michelle Imbrunone, which Sherry provided to Reason:

Goodrich Area Schools believes the total cost to fulfill this FOIA will be $77,718.75…It will be necessary to hire someone to assist us with sorting through the email content you have requested. The current estimate is that it may require up to 4,687.5 hours at the current clerical hourly employee rate of $16.58 per hour.

To put that in perspective, that's roughly two-and-a-quarter years of a clerical employee working 40 hours a week on nothing but Sherry's request.

FOIA response from Goodrich Area Schools
Click to view full-size document

The Smiths ended up retaining Phil Ellison, a Michigan attorney who specializes in FOIA and government transparency–related issues. Ellison says he's "gotten thousands of pages of documents in response to FOIA requests, and the costs were nowhere near what the Goodrich Schools is requesting that Sherry pay."

On July 1, changes to Michigan's FOIA law went into effect. According to the Detroit Free Press:

The law allows requesters who believe they are being overcharged for records to sue and ask a court to lower the fee. If the court concludes the public body arbitrarily and capriciously charged an unreasonable fee, the court must assess $1,000 in punitive damages.

The new law also increases punitive damages from $500 to $2,000 on public bodies that arbitrarily and capriciously break the law by refusing or delaying the release of public records.

With Ellison on board, the Smiths withdrew their original request and filed a new FOIA request July 1 under the amended law.

Additionally, they filed a request under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which gives students and their parents a right to access student records.

Ellison believes this two-pronged approach—using both FOIA and FERPA to try to get the records—is the best tactic to get the school system to hand over the records. "FOIA is the more time-effective…way to get there. FERPA is the more cost-effective, but of course, it takes longer," he says.

Under FERPA, Ellison says, the Smiths should be able to obtain the records for nothing more than the cost of the ink and paper it takes to print them. But unlike FOIA, the Smiths can't sue the school system if it fails to provide the documents under FERPA. "The Department of Education is the enforcement agency on that, and they withhold federal education monies from the school district if they're found to have violated FERPA," says Ellison.

If the school system doesn't respond to the FERPA request within the required 45 days, Ellison plans to file a complaint with the Department of Education, which would prompt a federal investigation and possible sanctions.

While the school system has until early August to respond to the Smiths' FERPA request, Ellison says the deadline for a response to the FOIA request passed July 22 with no response from the school system. His office has filed a legal action against Goodrich Area Schools, arguing the school system improperly denied the Smiths' request by not responding by the deadline.

Ellison says what he sees as an "epidemic level of secrecy" in government is due to the fact that "most of the time when people need records, it's to bring out something where the government has made an error, or miscalculated their discretion, and they don't want to be brought to light their malfeasance, misfeasance, and things of that nature."

Though Ellison thinks the Smiths' is likely a case of government "trying to hide records that probably aren't very favorable to them," he and Sherry both acknowledge it's possible the records will show a valid reason for the school system's denial of the Smiths' request that Mitchell be placed at the local college they selected. If it doesn't, the Smiths will still have to hire a lawyer versed in special-education law to appeal the placement.

"I'm not sure why they placed him where. I suspect that it has to do with politics and money," Sherry says. "That's what I've seen in the special-education system. I've been dealing with it for 14 years, and just about every decision administrators make ends up revolving around money and politics."

The Office of the Superintendent did not respond to a request for comment.

UPDATE 7/29/15: Sherry Smith's attorney has reached out to let us know that earlier today his office received hundreds of pages of emails from the school district. It seems 4,600 hours to complete the FOIA request was a bit of an overstatement. "There was no charge either," he writes.

NEXT: News Flash: Sitting on a drilling permit for 29 years constitutes 'unreasonable delay'

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  1. NO. Those emails are indexed. I’m sure they use outlook or office365. A simple search for every email with his name, or student number should be executable in a matter of hours (if there are a lot of files).

    electronic documents can be delivered at next to no cost. I smell a law suit.

    1. This might depend on how and where the email is archived.

      1. I bet they only have paper backups….

      2. I believe the school donated to the Clinton Foundation, so the emails are on Hillary’s server.

        1. What difference at this point does it make?

      3. “This might depend on how and where the email is archived.”

        Which itself depends on “Why”

        ….which is for the purpose of some arcane public-schools archives-law, which both creates massive amounts of make-work for the unionized-teacher archivists, as well as makes actually retrieving information so costly and time consuming that any retroactive investigation into events is highly discouraged.

        Bureaucracy, how does it work?

        1. The only thing a bureaucracy does well is feed itself.

          1. “The only thing a bureaucracy does well is feed itself.”

            Anything done well would be ‘the most efficient way possible’

            By definition, nothing done by bureaucracy – including the means by which they self-serve – is efficient. Its the classic, “dig a hole so you can get paid to fill it back in”. Multiply that activity thousand-fold across various public agencies, and billions upon billions of dollars go towards activity which works in direct opposition to productivity.

            For every brick laid, there must be 3 secondary forms filled and people staffed to file those forms. Then people to check that the forms have been filed properly. And then someone to come along and insist that the brick needs to be unlaid and then laid somewhere else as part of a ‘stimulus’ effort. God forbid you ever need to do any research on the forms that had been filed, because they don’t have someone permanently staffed to actually retrieve those forms. Which is why our schools are so terribly underfunded.

            1. Now why don’t you write a screed patiently explaining the only possible definition for “pedant”. That could come in handy.

              1. ahem. it was an ‘amplifying’ commment.

                (burnishes pedant credentials on wall)

            2. Don’t forget the brick inspector who will come by to inspect the pile of newly unlaid bricks just to point out that pre-used bricks are forbidden from being used in new construction so those all have to be thrown out.

        2. “This is a Bureaucracy, Sir. Nothing is SUPPOSED to get done.”

          Dave Sim, in Cerebus, back when it was funny (before issue 60).

    2. Fist is correct. You walked right into that, Spencer.

      1. yeah, but it’s still (if archived) not that hard to pull it out and find them. NOT 4k hours hard.

        1. I believe Fisty was making a little joke about the IRS/Lerner or perhaps Clinton emails. They’re easy to find if people want them to be found.

    3. Sorry Spencer, but the same people that run the IRS email system run the one for this school, and they “lost” the backups….

      How dare this serf demand anything from her superiors in any way considering they know what’s best and she is just some moron..

      /sarc just in case

      1. “No parent without a degree in Early Childhood Education has the skills necessary to determine if their child is mentally deficient or not.”

        Actual quote a teacher once said to me.

        1. I’m not sure I would be able to stop myself from punching that teacher in the face, really fucking hard.

        2. What gain be gained in a grand total of 2 years down at the community college brings with it diagnostic skills that would make a psychiatrist green with envy?

          Sounds legit.

        3. I grew up in a school district that served as a bedroom community to two (or possibly three) colleges and a teaching hospital. I dimly remember hearing about several clashes between “Education Professionals” and assorted Professors who were also parents. I don’t think it ever quite got to the level of “You are an Ed School graduate, not a real teacher.” out in the open, but I suspect that it was heavily implied as subtext.

          The school (s) tended to back down rather quickly.

    4. The school district mail server was stored at hillaryclinton.com. Those e-mails are gone.

  2. Sounds about right, given the productivity of bureaucrats and government employees.

    1. Yep:

      “To put that in perspective, that’s roughly two-and-a-quarter years of a clerical employee working 40 hours a week on nothing but Sherry’s request.”

      Sounds like my trips to the DMV right there.

      1. Candy Crush don’t play itself for 39 hours a week.

      2. But remember that school budgets are being slashed. Staff surely has been cut until all that’s left is a skeleton crew. How much overtime can you expect the office staff to do? The only solution is to bring in an outside consultant with expertise in computer forensics to verify that everything has been deleted and the hard copies shredded due to the criminal lack of storage space, also due to the budget cuts. Now, are you ready to vote for that bond measure?

      3. Do you have any idea how many bureaucrats would have to work for how many years to accomplish two-and-a-quarter years worth of work? I mean, just for starters you would have to form a committee to implement a study on forming a panel to conceptualize a framework for exploring the parameters of determining just how many years it would take how many bureaucrats to accomplish two-and-a-quarter year worth of work. Then you would have to have a review committee to meet every 5 years or so to see how that committee’s coming along.

  3. Hey, freedom (of information) ain’t free.

    1. If you don’t chip in your buck-o-five $77,000, who will?

  4. The new law also increases punitive damages from $500 to $2,000 on public bodies that arbitrarily and capriciously break the law by refusing or delaying the release of public records.

    How about we levy this fine against the person who signed the bottom of the document. $2000 doesn’t mean jack to a school system. $2000 will get the superintendent’s attention when it’s assessed against her.

    1. $2000 will get the superintendent’s attention when it’s assessed against her.

      A lot of superindentendants make wll into the 6 figure range, so probably not as much as you might think.

      1. Might put a bit of a dent in her frappuccino budget.

  5. Seriously, I used to be a professional researcher (and email index specialist) as an information manager at a venture capital firm.

    I wonder if I contacted the school and volunteered my time to compile the emails for this request if they would respond.

    1. I am sure that would be a union violation.

      1. I forget about those unions. Good thing public sector has them… or else… you know.

      2. And any day you get to violate a union is a good day?…

    2. You seem to be operating under the mistaken premise that there is some valid technical/organizational reason behind the quoted fee. This is obstruction pure and simple.

    3. But such an offer, if made publicly (ie, send the local newspaper a copy of your offer) would make the school system look even shadier if they declined it. Prediction: They will claim they can’t have “outsiders” looking at student/employee data, even though there are such things as confidentiality agreements, and the schools have the weight of government behind them to prosecute leaks.

      1. Tonio wants Ed Snowden Junior to sell your childrens’ confidential info to Russia.

        Why does Commrade Tonio hate children?

  6. That’s what I’ve seen in the special public-education system. I’ve been dealing with it for 14 years, and just about every decision administrators make ends up revolving around money and politics

    FTFY

  7. Dare I say that $77K to produce emails is….retarded.

    YEAH, I SAID IT.

  8. The current estimate is that it may require up to 4,687.5 hours at the current clerical hourly employee rate of $16.58 per hour.

    Because when you can measure a time period in years, you can reliably get estimates that precise. From government.

    1. The “.5” is a nice touch.

    2. Because when you can measure a time period in years, you can reliably get estimates that precise.

      Hey, lighten up, Nikki. Superintendent Imbrunone *said* it was the “current” estimate and “up to” that number.

    3. I like the ‘up to.’ We know for a fact it won’t take 4,688 hours, but it may very well take 4,687.5.

  9. “I’m not sure why they placed him where. I suspect that it has to do with politics and money,” Sherry says. “That’s what I’ve seen in the special-education system. I’ve been dealing with it for 14 years, and just about every decision administrators make ends up revolving around money and politics.”

    Scumbags are gonna scumbag.

    Schools are there for the children my ass.

    This is woodchipper worthy.

    1. Some Texas school districts were busted for sticking minority kids in “special education” where the district got more state money and the teachers didn’t have to teach them as much. For some reason they preferred teaching the white kids with supportive parents.

        1. The researchers, of course, come to the conclusion that this is racism, straight up.

          I prefer my racism on the rocks.

          1. Neat!

        2. Our study has several limitations.

          Not the least of which is doing sophisticated mathematical analyses on “emotional disturbance”.

          1. Well, they’re not doing analysis on ED, per se, but just on the population of kids labeled as such by school counselors and the like.

              1. You know, I set up the ball for a good erectile dysfunction joke and you fumbled it.

                1. On the bright side, all that ball-fumbling means that if you’re still suffering from erectile dysfunction, at least you’re enjoying it.

        3. More minority underachievement. If they worked at it they could get into special ed.

      1. Some Texas school districts were busted for sticking minority kids in “special education” where the district got more state money

        Funny, that’s where I started elementary school. See my comment below for details on what I experienced. Although I’m not a minority, so nobody gives a shit.

      2. Now why do I suspect that the minority parents who weren’t as supportive weren’t, say, Vietnamese, or Hispanic, or Jewish?

  10. The fee was designed to make it more cost effective for the family to pay for the program of their choice and abandon looking into the district’s machinations any further.

  11. Isn’t there something about taking the king’s shilling? The bureaucratic abuse notwithstanding, it’s a bit difficult to gin up sympathy for a case of taxpayer dependency.

    1. She’s asking for a lower impact solution of mainstreaming her kid. And I think you have that backwards. It’s the school system that is dependent upon our taxes. It’s not unreasonable to ask them to provide an educational service in return.

      1. Although there is a point to made about why taxpayers should be hit with providing education for her kid through age 26.

        1. It takes a village but only one wallet.

        2. Not only providing her child with the cost of fucking college, but all based upon the premise that he had an “intellectual disability”?! So if you are dumb enough, you get to go to college at taxpayers expense? How in the fuck does that work? You have a low IQ so we are going to make sure you attend college so that you will have a “degree” when you go work minimum wage or collect “disability” for the rest of your life.

          FUCK!

          1. I don’t think they get college paid for. They just get to stay in high school for longer. And usually until 21 still. The 26 thing, as much fun as it is to joke about, is just for health insurance as far as I know.

            1. Woops, apparently in Michigan publicly funded education of the uneducatable does go until 26.

              1. To be fair, who would have guessed that 26 was the new 18?

            2. Zeb, Zeb, Zeb. If you read the article you will not appear as ignorant. It clearly states that the State is responsible until he is 26. The article also mentions, wait for it, “college”.

              So wrong on both counts.

          2. Why do you hate Art History/Gender Studies/Philosophy majors?

        3. Ah, but the educational system battens on us on the agreement that it will provide certain services to certain persons, as outline in law. Yes, I happen to think that the whole system is rotten to the core and needs to be demolished. But you get there incrementally, not all at once. FIRST you demonstrate that the system does everything it can to deny service to the people it is supposed to provide service to. Then I think the next step would be a universal voucher system. Then you gather a number of years’ data on how the old system schools perform vs. the private schools that run on the vouchers. And when you have shown that the old public schools would get substantially the same results if they locked the kids in cages and didn’t say a word to them all day, THEN you call for the crucifixion of Teachers’ union Reps, the abolishment of the Public Schools, and the immolation of all Ed School colleges.

    2. I have no sympathy for any of you breeders!

      1. The robot army agrees!

        1. Forward metal comrades!!!

        2. I for one welcome our Robo-woodchipper Overlords.

    3. Agreed. Taxpayer money to pay for an unreasonable request (presumably “all emails” pertaining to their son); then more taxpayer money to pay for on-going education.

  12. Is it also possible that the agency is dinged for incomplete responses so they go over the top to be “thorough” and pass the alleged costs on to the requestor?

    It would take 10 seconds to run a query for the student name in the outlook system, but it might miss some emails.

  13. So, we’re being told “freedom of information” ain’t free?

    1. It costs surprisingly more than $1.05.

  14. That response is bullshit, and Smith should just cut to the chase and sue them.

    -jcr

    1. This. The current estimate is Smith should make $7,7718,750 from winning.

      1. Dammit: *up to $7,771,875*!

        *** gets coffee ***

  15. If it costs 77 grand just to find the emails that mention this kid, imagine how much money the school spent composing all those emails.

  16. Not really finding any sympathetic characters here. We have one person who wants to rob other people, using the state as the collection agency, to take care of her kid well into adulthood. Then we have an employee of the state refusing to use the money already stolen to do their damn job.

    1. Not really finding any sympathetic characters here.

      Maybe the kid?

    2. You know, I can’t really blame a parent and taxpayer for wanting the schools to do what the law says they are supposed to do, even if I can’t stand the system or how it is funded.

      And it is not clear that what she wants will cost more than what she gets now. The kid still gets school until age 26. And that is the fault of legislators, not the mom.

      1. You know, I can’t really blame a parent and taxpayer for wanting the schools to do what the law says they are supposed to do, even if I can’t stand the system or how it is funded.

        Bingo. I hear libertarians always talking about how it’s not hypocritical to be against Social Security, but still draw from it. I see nothing wrong with using the provided government services.

      2. ^This. She didn’t create the System, she just wants to get what the system tells her she is entitled to. We really can’t expect the general public to wake up and realize the deep fallacies of statism overnight. This will take at least a generation to change.

    3. Society, urged by the Statists, promised to take care of the kid until he is 26. How is it unreasonable for his mother to ask that that promise be kept?

      I’m not sure by what social theory my Wife should be pain Social Security Disability. But the law was in place before her disability hit. I didn’t vote for it, but my fellow citizens did, or voted for the politicians who did. We cash the check each month.

      Thank you.

      When you decide to stop that payment, and get the citizenry to agree with you, it will inconvenience us, but we will understand. But we aren’t going to turn in down until then. Why should we. We didm’t vote FOR the Social Security TAX either.

  17. It’s possible the school district doesn’t have a fully developed IT support system, or farms support out and this kind of thing isn’t covered by their contract. Searching for mail messages isn’t as easy a task as you might think. Most places set limits on mailbox sizes and require users to delete old messages. If there is no message archive system and the only way to comply is retrieve the messages from a backup system, that could be an involved process. Depending on the backup system they use, its granularity and search capabilities, finding only those messages in the search parameters would be very involved.

    If, on the other hand, they use a hosted service for emailing, things should be easier, depending on the service and what they offer.

    All of this is not in defense of that dollar figure per se, just a possible explanation that it’s not necessarily as easy as finding old email messages at home.

    1. Can you repeat that in a Stephen Hawking voice?

      1. I DUMBED IT DOWN AS MUCH AS I AM WILLING.

  18. “I’m not sure why they placed him where. I suspect that it has to do with politics and money,”

    That’s probably a pretty safe bet. I got labeled “special needs” in 1st grade because I was slow at getting my work done and couldn’t pay attention in class. Nowadays they’d probably shove Ritalin down my throat. In reality, I was just bored in the regular class, and it got even worse in the “special needs” class.

    Finally in 3rd grade I had a teacher who wasn’t a complete moron and actually noticed that it wasn’t that I was slow or stupid, that I got the material the first time she explained it unlike the actual borderline retards I was in class with. By the end of third grade I had moved all the way up from the “special needs” class to the “gifted” class. It also helped that the teacher gave me the test for the gifted program (against the wishes of the school) and I scored well enough to get in and also scored a 155 on an IQ test. My parents have always suspected that they needed more kids in the special needs program in order to get more federal funding and I was an easy target (no proof, but it would make sense). And people wonder why hate public school bureacrats and administrators.

    1. In this case, the parents state their son has an intellectual disability – they want the funding, and special attention, just not the bill.

      1. True, but I suspect the school wants him in the program of their choosing so that program will get extra funding instead of allowing the parents to choose this other program. Plus it sounds like the parents are trying to get him into a program at a local college, which the school would pay for due to his “special needs” categorization, but I’m assuming the school wants to send him to this other segregated program because it’s cheaper. And if it’s through them, then they might end up getting money from the feds instead of having to pay money out. I’m not sure, the article’s a little fuzzy on the details.

        1. “I suspect the school wants him in the program of their choosing so that program will get extra funding instead of allowing the parents to choose this other program.”

          Oh my God, it would be so delicious if someone mentioned something like this in one of those emails and that was why they made the cost prohibitively high. I would laugh my ass off for a week over a bureaucratic mess like that.

        2. Funding is likely the issue on both sides. Goodrich is a relatively small school system, so the cost burden is extreme if they need to pay the college bill for this student.

    2. In this case, the parents state their son has an intellectual disability – they want the funding, and special attention, just not the bill.

    3. Umm, why didn’t your parents challenge that special needs categorization? Surely they knew you were the opposite of retarded.

      1. I can tell you that if you challenge it, they educrats often insert the phrase “Department of Children and Families” into their arguments in passive aggressive ways.

      2. IIRC they did and were told FYTW. I guess they could have sued the school district, but

        1) they weren’t the types to go around suing people and more importantly
        2) they couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer

    4. Got labeled Retard, and now you are a libertarian? Doesn’t sound like the school messed up, kochsucker.

      /Tony/BP/Libtroll

  19. Up to $2,000 in punitive damages? That’s not a whole lot.

    1. And it’s not like it’s “real” money as far as the bureaucrats are concerned since it doesn’t come out of their paychecks.

  20. What if the individuals who decided upon Mitchel Smith’s placement simply forwarded the pertinent sections of their internal correspondence?

    Wouldn’t that satisfy the Mrs. Smith’s request?

    I may be speculating too much here, but what if – and I admit that it’s a big what if – they aren’t actually acting in good faith?

  21. “When she filed a FOIA request for educational records related to her son, Mitchell, the school system told her there would be a hefty price tag?to wit, $77,718.75.

    Mitchell has an intellectual disability, which means the state will pay for his education until he turns 26. Having just finished high school, he and his family found a program at a local college they felt was just right for him.”

    But:

    “But Goodrich Area Schools denied the Smiths’ request, instead recommending placement in a segregated program. Since Mitchell had been mainstreamed since kindergarten, the Smiths couldn’t understand the school system’s decision.”

    If this guy is mentally capable enough to be in the ‘mainstream’ section of his school, why exactly are we paying for his education until he turns 26? I just found an article saying this guy is 19, so it isn’t even like he’s been held back much by his disability. It sounds like he might have been held back a year at most.

    This entire situation confuses me. We’ve got public organizations charging people $70,000 for a FOIA request related to the fact that their son has free education provided for him due to a ‘cognitive disability’ so severe that he basically graduated high school on time without even being involved in special education.

    1. Look, the important thing here is that public education create lots of opportunities for billing the taxpayer for “special” services.

    2. No. Students can be severely cognitively impaired and still be mainstreamed as long as their behavior is not disruptive. Education for those folks is really about warehousing in the most helpful and non-shitty environment possible. They’d probably continue to send him to “school” or “college” for his entire adult life if someone else was paying. Most likely the job or career he’s capable of pursuing doesn’t require more than basic skills and more “education” isn’t going to train him for it.

      This is about money. The districts wants to send him to a federally funded (read shit) holding “school”. The family wants a community or small college that will allow him to take classes and function as “normal” while probably not really gaining any new knowledge or skills and which is probably way more expensive. Affluent, reasonably well educated, or just clever parents figure out how to work the system. They get it to pay for the very best care for their kid while the less clever get shafted.

      1. ^^^ basically what i meant to point out.

  22. OT:

    The Cincy police officer who murdered a man by shooting him through his car window has been indicted for murder. Subject to the future bench trial at which the judge acquits, him, of course.

    1. How? Was it on video? Obviously OH needs a LEO’s Bill of Rights.

  23. OT

    re: Amnesty Int’l’s call to decrim ye oldest profession

    I’m concerned AI’s going to fold under the mountain of stoopid excreting from famous dipshits. Or possibly announce a “compromise” and recommend a Nordic model for research. On the bright side, their draft paper was convincingly pro-decrim and critical of the Nordic model criminalizing buyers and brothel owners.

    1. Well, Anne Hathaway played a prostitute in Le Mis so she knows all about it, and she doesn’t like it so STFU. WHO ARE YOU TO QUESTION ANNE HATHAWAY?

      1. I would be willing to overlook any of Anne Hathaway’s shortcomings.

  24. I just want to say that the picture of the intellectual-disabled kid in a bowtie is just mean

    1. Bowties are cool.

  25. So do school administrators have enough clout with the US attorney to get an investigation started if someone was to sly suggest the administrators would be more valuable to society as lawn mulch coming out of a woodchipper?

    1. I don’t know, they are TOP MEN and threatening TOP MEN is certainly a serious offense, but it’s not like they’re federal judges. Probably not worth the US attorney’s time, but perhaps a local DA’s?

      1. So perhaps some other vague, but slightly threatening set of words would be a better way of expressing disdain that the Superintendent continues to expel carbon dioxide thus contributing to the spectacle of global warming.

      2. So perhaps some other vague, but slightly threatening set of words would be a better way of expressing disdain that the Superintendent continues to expel carbon dioxide thus contributing to the spectacle of global warming.

  26. I happen have nearly 30 years of experience in the records management field, am considered a subject matter expert, and have worked both in government and commercial firms. I can tell you this is absurd. It’s someone who, for whatever reason, simply didn’t want to respond, so they dreamed up this number.

    If there email system is in such a mess that will take nearly 2 man years to find the emails with this young man’s name in them, they need to be fired for gross incompetence. This is the kind of the kind of thing that should take less than a day…two at the most to respond to….doesn’t matter how messed up their files, email and records management systems are.

  27. Even when you consider that government employees actually work maybe a second or two of every hour, that seems a bit excessive.

    1. I hate every actor in this story. Must be the script

  28. More fun stuff from the Detroit Free Press (freep dot com, lol) article:

    It also requires courts to fine public bodies $2,500 to $7,500 for willfully and intentionally failing to follow the law. The fines are paid to the state.

    If a government misses a deadline for responding to a request, it must discount the fees charged by 5% for each day the response is late. The maximum discount is 50%.

  29. Do you have any more information on this, CR Denning? The Detroit Free Press Article is about Michigan’s FOIA law, not about Sherry Smith. I’m particularly curious about the “college program.” Some commenters have interpreted that to mean Smith’s son will be in a (college) degree program. It has occurred to me that this could also be a remedial HS program administered by the college but whose participants are not matriculated into the regular degree program of the college.

  30. NSFL: The video of a Cincinatti cop murdering Samuel DuBose. The cop has been indicted for murder based on the video.

    1. Dammit, wrong thread.

  31. OK, I get the first part. The School district did’t want to spend the money on this young man, so they denied the mother’s request, and when they were it with the FOIA they stonewalled. I get that part. Maybe they had, in their heads, earmarked that special ed money for that nice “Special Needs Education in the 21st Century” convocation. You know, the one in Honolulu, or was it Vegas?

    But then she came back with a lawyer. And what I want to know is, at that point, what outcome do these idiots foresee that is going to be better than quickly granting her second FOIA request, and simultaneously agreeing to send her child where she wants?

  32. Forrest’s mom fucked the director…

  33. There was a similar issue in my area where a man was after 3 teachers emails for a lawsuit and they quoted him hundreds of thousands of dollars to retrieve those emails, if I recall correctly, citing the same thing. It was utterly ridiculous. I never did hear how it turned out….

  34. How about this: way back when the lad was in kindergarten Mom shopped around for a doctor that would diagnose him as “intellectually disabled.” She pushed to get him in normal classes but with all the extra attention that his special needs status entitled him to. Everyone in the school administration is aware of the scam because they can tell the kid is obviously normal. They finally get the opportunity to get him off the teat by offering a college that they know his family won’t agree to, hoping that they’ll just send him to a regular college and pay for it themselves. That plan didn’t work, the mom hired a lawyer, the school district responded with their outrageous $77,000 cost for the FOIA request.

  35. Mitchell has an intellectual disability, which means the taxpayers will pay for his parents’ irresponsibility until he turns 26.

    FIFY

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