A local school district is charging a parent more than $7,000 to access school records that may pertain to the bullying of her son.
District parent Terrie Chumchal filed a public records request with Joshua Independent School District (JISD) in November, calling for the disclosure of the total number of “bullying reports,” “assault reports,” “police reports,” “incident reports,” and “grievances” logged by the district between 2015 and 2022.
JISD responded to Chumchal in a letter claiming that the total number of requested incidents was not a data point that the district tracks and that district staff would have to “manually retrieve all potentially responsive reports, then review, and redact confidential information.”
The district attached a price tag of $7,111.12 to fulfill Chumchal’s request.
The Dallas Express reached out to JISD for comment on the matter but did not hear back by press time.
“These are numbers that have to be compiled and given to the States Texas Education Agency every year anyway,” stated Chumchal’s attorney, Warren Norred, per Fox News. “Most of this work should have already been done.”
Norred noted as much in an appeal to the Texas Attorney General’s Office, arguing that the district does not need to redact information from the relevant documents because Chumchal is only requesting the total number of incidents.
However, the Texas Education Agency only requires tracking of “bullying incidents,” not “assault reports,” “police reports,” “incident reports,” and “grievances.”
Since JISD is legally required to be responsive to the open records request as written, it is likely that reports not explicitly dealing with “bullying” must be produced with non-public information redacted.
“As a parent, I have every right to know what’s going on in the school and why my son is not safe in the school district,” Chumchal said Tuesday on “America’s Newsroom,” per Fox News.
The issue of school transparency has been one that has resonated in recent years in North Texas, with local parents pushing school boards and superintendents to be more transparent about curricula, educational materials, and campus policies.
At the biggest school district in North Texas, Dallas Independent School District (DISD), a recent poll found that an overwhelming bipartisan majority of district residents supported more transparency from the district, with education activist Kelly Neidert claiming that “DISD lacks transparency across the board.”
In addition to frustrating parents, such problems with district administration make life more difficult for teachers in the classroom, who work tirelessly to provide quality education efficiently to students, even in the face of administrative resistance.
Chumchal is now filing an appeal with the Texas Attorney General’s Office to reduce or throw out the bill JISD is trying to levy against her.
“I just would make sure that people understand that it takes parents stepping up like Terrie … and saying, ‘You can’t do this as long as a parent steps up,'” Norred stated.