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Judge rules school district may not charge for access to public records

Ring up "no sale."

District Judge Susan Johnson has put her foot down. The Clark Country School District can’t charge Henderson resident Karen Gray thousands of dollars to provide her with e-mails of school board members.

The judge said Friday that Gray’s request was “focused and direct” and the district could not charge her to discourage nuisance requests.

Early the district told her it would cost her $4,280 to obtain the e-mails because it would take 30 hours of technology department staff time at $60 an hour to sift the e-mails from the system and 62 hours of office staff time at $38 an hour to review for confidential content, plus copying costs. (Funny, when teachers take on extra tasks, they are paid $22 an hour.)

In an earlier ruling Judge Johnson said, “if CCSD believes certain e-mails generated by its school trustees contain confidential information, it is the one who should bear the expense of review and redaction, if any, as well as provide Ms. Gray an explanation as to why the public record will not be produced."

Essentially, if there are records comingled with public ones, it is the responsibility of the district to cull them and not the records requester.

In her latest ruling, she said the district must create an index of e-mails it determines should be withheld for privacy reasons so Gray may challenge that finding in court. She also said she favored a broad interpretation of what is public, saying an e-mail about meeting for dinner is subject to disclosure.

The district has 30 days to comply.

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