Loudoun County schools charge mom $36,000 to respond to open records request on ‘sexual assault,’ ‘rape’

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A parent filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Loudon County Public School District when administrators charged $36,000 to retrieve records related to possible sexual assaults.

Michelle Mege, a mother in the district, wanted to search for any communications – including press releases, statements or emails – that used the words “sexual assault” or “rape” between May 1 and Oct. 18 this year.

The extravagant fee derived from the hourly rate needed to review documents, which is around $72.15, according to a school official.

“Retrieving these documents would take a half hour’s work by the supervisor of information technology at a cost of $36.08,” Loudoun County Public Schools public information officer Wayde Byard said in an email reviewed by the Daily Caller. “Review of these documents – at the rate of 200 per hour – is estimated to take 500 hours.”

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“This work would be performed by the public information officer at the rate of $72.15 per hour,” he explained. “Loudoun County Public Schools estimates it would cost $36,111.68 to fulfill this request.”

Byard claimed a little over 100,000 documents could possibly relate to the request.

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Loudoun County has found itself at the center of scandal after the revelation that a male student who sexually assaulted a girl in a girls’ restroom went on to assault another student in another school after the school transferred him to that school.

Heather Fruzzetti makes a public statement as people protest different issues including the board’s handling of a sexual assault that happened in a school bathroom in May, vaccine mandates and critical race theory during a Loudoun County School Board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S., October 26, 2021. Picture taken October 26, 2021. <span class="copyright">REUTERS/Leah Millis</span>

Heather Fruzzetti makes a public statement as people protest different issues including the board’s handling of a sexual assault that happened in a school bathroom in May, vaccine mandates and critical race theory during a Loudoun County School Board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S., October 26, 2021. Picture taken October 26, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis

Parents have grappled with the fact that such actions could go underreported in their schools, driving them to find any information possible to understand the scope of the issue in the school district.

But the cost would prove prohibitive for most parents and serve as a roadblock to any attempt a parent makes to uncover the full extent of possible sexual assault in the district, according to Ian Prior of the group Fight for Schools.

“The fact that there are potentially 100,000 documents responsive to this request is extremely concerning,” Prior said. “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.”

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