Public Comments for: HB688 - School boards; production of public records, fee schedules.
Last Name: Wahlstrom Locality: Suffolk

My name is Deborah Wahlstrom and I am a Suffolk citizen. Thank you for allowing me to provide input to HB 688 – a bill I support and encourage you to pass. I come to you this morning with wide experiences in helping schools and school divisions improve in their operations and academic achievement. I’ve seen loads of central offices and the impact of decisions made by school boards around Virginia and other parts of the country. I believe it is important to recognize that generally speaking, most school boards are not aware of the Freedom of Information Act and what it means. Because the topic is left out of most division and school-level leadership courses, we have superintendents, central office staffs, and building-level staff who have not learned that public documents are well, public. One of the consequences of filing a FOIA request is being charged an amount of money – and this amount is usually arbitrary. In Suffolk, I was charged over $600.00 dollars to get a list of people and topics for FOIA requests. I don’t mind paying fees, but it doesn’t make common sense to be charged so much for something’ the school division should have had on hand – as FOIA requests are also FOIABLE. The cost is arbitrary as are the citizens who must pay for public information. The current law provides some guidance, but not enough such that fees are consistent from one FOIA requester to the next. Each school division is required to have a FOIA officer and it seems that part of that person’s job is to provide responses to FOIA requests. There does not need to be a fee for all requests and there certainly needs to be consistency of FOIA fees in a school division. For these reasons, I wholeheartedly support HB 688. Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.

Last Name: Matsh Locality: Prince william

Please vote for this bill. The training should be optional.

Last Name: Smith Locality: Richmond

Please vote Yes on HB 988. It is not equitable to charge the public exorbitant amounts for 'public information' and is discriminatory against those with few resources.

End of Comments