Q&A: Records request roadblock


From the South Bend Tribune:

Q: I filed a Freedom of Infor­mation Act request with South Bend schools in October to find out how much the district spent in legal fees to develop a 30-plus page investigative packet of “evidence” that was the basis for a censure of a board member earlier this fall.

To date, officials tell me they have no document that’s responsive to my request. Do you have any suggestions for how I could get the information?

A: If you’re talking about non-school corporation counsel, ask for copies of all the invoices the school district received from the law firm for the time period that you think they worked on the assignment. You could also ask for similar bills from a year earlier as a comparison.

The invoices might indicate what they did beyond normal work. But even if you only get the dollar amounts, you might be able to determine that the bump was due to the specific assignment.

Telling you they don’t have any records that fit your criteria is a response as required by law.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.