Going National

MONONGALIA COUNTY SCHOOLS MAKES THE NATIONAL MEDIA IN DISGRACE

The Associated Press picked up on the Dominion Post article about Monongalia County Schools’ proposal to charge onerous and surely unlawful costs for Freedom Of Information Act requests. The AP story went national. All or part of it was run in newspapers from Texas to New York and beyond, and in the USA Today. Also in Charleston and all across West Virginia.

Note to Monongalia County Schools: You don’t mess with the Freedom Of Information Act.

Just as you should not break and abuse the other laws and policies that you continue to flout in trying to build a new green elementary school at an unhealthy, dangerous, and unlawful site: the intersection of WV 705 and US 119. Little children’s lungs and breathing, it is a scientific fact, cannot cope with traffic pollution to the extent that adults or even high school students can. The high traffic, noise, congestion, and pollution from WV 705, US 119, and their intersection makes that site for a school inappropriate, unlawful, and outrageous. No school should be sited at one of Morgantown’s most dangerous intersections for crashes, and on Morgantown’s by far most dangerous road for crashes, WV 705, a preposterous and ridiculous site for any school, especially a “green” school.

There is more than one national story here, far more, in the making and long since, as far as the eye can see.

The AP story:

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — The Monongalia County Board of Education may start charging 35 cents per page for electronic public records, even though a lawyer argues such records carry no reproduction costs.

The board already charges 40 cents per page for paper copies. Superintendent Frank Devono now wants to charge for those that are e-mailed or copied onto flash drives under the Freedom of Information Act.

He said it’s to compensate for operator time and the use of computer resources.

But West Virginia University law professor Pat McGinley told The Dominion Post public agencies can only charge for the cost of reproduction, meaning paper and ink. Digital copies have no reproduction costs unless the agency provides a disc, too, he said.

Morgantown resident Tony Christini, who has criticized the board for a failure to be forthcoming on other issues, argues that charging for “operator time” and “resource usage” means charging for labor. That, he said, is not permitted under FOIA.

The fee should be dramatically lowered, Christini said, because it discriminates against low-income citizens and prevents them from being informed.

The board will take public comment through Oct. 15 and vote Oct. 26.

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Information from: The Dominion Post, http://www.dominionpost.com

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