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Loudoun County school attempts to charge parent $36,000 for records related to sexual assault

Loudoun County public School District administrators charged a parent $36,000 to retrieve records related to possible sexual assaults that had taken place in their schools. In response, the parent filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.

A mother in the district, Michelle Mege, was hoping to search for any communications, like press releases, statements or emails, that used the words “sexual assault” or “rape” from May 1 to October 18 of this year. The $36,000 price tag came from the hourly rate needed to look through the documents, which a school official said would be around $72.15.

“Retrieving these documents would take a half hour’s work by the supervisor of information technology at a cost of $36,08,” said Wayde Byard, Loudoun County Public Schools public information officer, in an email. “Review of these documents – at the rate of 200 per hour – is estimated to take 500 hours.”

He added, “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.” Byrd said over 100,000 documents could pertain to Mege’s request.

Loudoun County was thrust into the spotlight after it was found that a gender-fluid student sexually assaulted a girl in a girls’ bathroom and went on to assault a second student in a different school after he was transferred there. Parents were frustrated that these actions could be withheld from them, and the cost of reviewing the documents could prevent most parents from uncovering the full extent of sexual assault in the district.

“The fact that there are potentially 100,000 documents responsive to this request is extremely concerning,” said Ian Prior of the Fight for Schools group. “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.” 

ARTICLE: ELIZABETH HERTZBERG

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: YAHOO NEWS

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