Michigan School Charged Parents $ 400,000 For FOIA Compliance At CRT Battle


NS A group of Michigan parents was asked by Forest Hills Public School to fork more than $ 400,000 before complying with the information disclosure law requirements submitted by the district. The district later reduced costs to about $ 2,200.

FOIA was sent to FHPS on May 11th. The request called for “every sentence” using words such as fairness, diversity, and inclusiveness.

When it was said that responding to such a wide range of FOIA requests could take more than a year to complete at a cost in the $ 400,000 range, FOIA was scaled down as follows: See the word or phrase “Critical Race Theory” … “.

When FHPS compliance with FOIA was said to be exorbitantly costly, parents resubmitted FOIA on May 18, created by FHPS staff, school board members, and Northern Hills Middle School Principal David Simpson. We have narrowed down the request to include only documents that mention CRT. The tabs were still over $ 400,000, as school officials said it was “impossible to exclude” students from the search.

In July, the FHPS Technology Division admitted that it made an error when submitting a search for “Critical Racism Theory” and revised it to the originally requested “Critical Racism Theory.” As a result, about 2,000 emails were sent and about 1,930 staff emails were sent.

FPHS explains them FOIA policy On the district’s website: “When calculating the labor costs incurred, the district charges up to 50% of the applicable labor fee in addition to the hourly wage to cover the costs of fringe benefits associated with that labor. You can perform the task. Labor costs are estimated and billed in 15 minute increments. All partial increments are truncated. “

The bill was then reduced to $ 2,197 and my parents mounted GoFundMe. Campaign to collect money After FHPS repeatedly refused to forgive the fee. As of Thursday afternoon, donations recorded $ 2,435.

“The policy behind FOIA is that we have the right to complete and complete information so that the public can fully participate in the democratic process,” said Patrick, Vice President of Legal at the McKinack Public Policy Center. Wright told Center Square. “The policy applies no matter how controversial the underlying government actions are.”

Conflicts between parents and FHPS continue, and parents deliberately avoided transparency with their parents by scheduling committee meetings when most parents were still working. Claims.

The request to hold a zoom conference, which can also be recorded for later streaming viewing, was rejected by President Mary Vonk of the FPHS Board.

“By recording meetings, our community does not have access to more board business than is currently available through the agenda and minutes,” Vonck said on August 6, 2021, FPHS parents. Wrote in an email shared with Center Square.

“Still, the resources needed to record and post meetings are important,” Vonck wrote. “Therefore, we recommend that the community visit the district’s website for full access to all board operations.”

Vonck also said that the minutes of the school board will be posted within five business days of approval. FPHS parents Michelle Schellenberg and Julie Wagner said in the minutes of the Center Square meeting that they deliberately omitted important information discussed at the school board meeting.

Brink also said the Center Square FPHS Board of Education meeting has been held at 7 pm for at least the last 11 years.

The resentment between parents and the school board escalated after the video production was shown to students of Martin Luther King Jr., a national holiday in February. According to Schellenberg, part of this video was produced by students participating in the school’s Global Learning Initiative.

“That was really ridiculous,” Schellenberg told Center Square. “It was a CRT primer discussing the privileges of whites,” she said, citing the controversial theory that individuals with white skin enjoy the social and economic benefits of essentially denying color individuals. Did. “There was no balance or counterpoint. It was all about social justice. There is no way for students to do it themselves.”

The video was shown to the student’s body, but Schellenberg said the principal would not release it to parents requesting to see it. According to Schellenberg, some teachers have opted out of displaying videos in their classes.

She said all attempts made by her parents to discuss the matter with school officials were rejected, or in other cases, “we were stroked and scooped up.”

Wagner told Center Square that he moved his family from East Kentwood to Forest Hills because he felt the children were better educated. “It makes me sick because it turns out that Forest Hills is teaching my kids something behind me,” she said.

Schellenberg and Wagner also noted that there was a problem with some of the readings assigned to the children and that FPHS refused to share a copy of part of the health and sex education curriculum.

“They didn’t email it to us or allow us to inspect it otherwise. They were even allowed to visit the school to make a copy of some of the material. We didn’t, but some of what we saw was in the Planned Parenthood letterhead, “Wagner said.

Schellenberg read some of the class readings that her daughter brought back from school and realized that it was sexually graphic in nature.

“Every time they try to find out what they are teaching their children, we are disturbed,” she said.

Center Square solicited comments by calling the FHPS Board of Education and by email sent to Simpson. The school board did not respond, but Simpson directed the media request to FPHS Communications Director Elizabeth Brink.

“We tried to cooperate,” Brink told Center Square. “But I don’t think it makes sense to expect to use staff and resources to meet such a big demand. Work with the individual who submitted the FOIA to find out exactly what they are looking for. I looked it up. As a result, the cost was significantly reduced. Compliance. “

Brink said the FHPS will begin working on FOIA compliance once the check arrives at $ 2,197. She expects this to happen this week. “It’s the price we estimated, but it takes much more time and resources to meet the demand,” she said.

Washington Examiner Video

tag: state, news, Michigan, school, FOIA, Critical race theory

Original author: Bruce Walker, Center Square

Original location: Michigan School Charged Parents $ 400,000 For FOIA Compliance At CRT Battle