A parent in Loudoun County filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Loudoun County Public Schools on Oct. 18 and was asked to pay over $36,000 to retrieve public records.
The FOIA requested by mother Michelle Mege asked for “all communications, including press releases, statements, emails, or other correspondence in any format within the LCPS possession” that use the words “sexual assault” or “rape” between May 1 and Oct. 18, 2021. The FOIA request was made in response to two sexual assaults that took place in Loudoun County high schools that parents allege the district tried to cover up.
Wayde Byard, Loudoun County Public Schools public information officer, said that the district has 100,065 “potential documents” that fall under this request, according to correspondence reviewed by the Daily Caller. Byard claims that the hourly rate for reviewing documents is $72.15.
“Retrieving these documents would take a half hour’s work by the supervisor of information technology at a cost of $36.08,” Byard said. “Review of these documents – at the rate of 200 per hour – is estimated to take 500 hours. This work would be performed by the public information officer at the rate of $72.15 per hour. Loudoun County Public Schools estimates it would cost $36,111.68 to fulfill this request.”
The hourly rate of $72.15 appears common for Loudoun County Public Schools according to other FOIA’s reviewed by the Daily Caller. Scott Mineo, an LCPS parent who operates a concerned parent organization, was charged $180.37 for two and half hours of work. Mineo was asked to pay $432.90 for five hours of work to review 958 emails for “exemptions and possible redactions.”
Ian Prior, the founder of Fight for Schools, told the Daily Caller that he finds the dollar amount “concerning” and claims the charge is a “roadblock” to prevent parents from uncovering the full extent of sexual assault in the district. (RELATED: Minnesota Public School District Tried To Charge Concerned Parents More Than $900,000 For Records)
“The fact that there are potentially 100,000 documents responsive to this request is extremely concerning,” Prior said. “But it is equally concerning that Loudoun County Public Schools would put up a $36,000 roadblock in front of parents trying to find out the extent of sexual assaults occurring in our schools, especially since LCPS has not been reporting those sexual assaults to the state as is required by law.”