Mississippi school district wants $50 before it will begin processing FOIA

Tupelo Public School District delays request for LGBTQ protections until it receives deposit for “search and review”

Written by Grace Raih
Edited by JPat Brown

Bureaucratic back and forth can make filing for public records a languorous process. Prolonged delays for responsive documents or outright rejections are the M.O. of many agencies, but sometimes requestors can run into the “ransom” approach to prohibiting free information. A school District in Mississippi is requesting a $50 advance before it will begin process a FOIA request regarding LGBTQ protections within its institutions.

This is twice as much as the $25 charged Alabama Department of Corrections, and ties Tupelo with Baltimore Police for the arbitrary fee barrier record.

According to the Mississippi Public Records Act, “all public records maintained by the District, shall be made available for access and duplication”. While this is stated in the acknowledgement letter, the initial fee required before “searching and reviewing the documents” suggests just the opposite.

In addition to the cost of combing through and reviewing these documents, the district felt it was appropriate to inform us shipping would cost extra as well …

The letter also suggests that the broad nature of the request could result in a copy charge “more expansive than you were expecting”. This is all before any research had been conducted or documents produced. Freedom of information should be free, or at least reasonably priced.

Read the full letter embedded below or on the request page:


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