Over 500 FOIA requests filed by parents against Loudon County school district

Over 500 FOIA requests filed by parents against Loudon County school district

More than 500 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests have been filed by district parents against Loudon County Public Schools (LCPS).

The school district has been continually facing widespread backlash and criticism for covering up sexual assaults in schools.

The FOIA requests were filed by parents looking to gather information to give them insight into the sexual assaults in the schools. In the last few years, the number of requests has increased by about five times.

From the years 2012 to 2018, the average number of FOIA requests in the school district was approximately 90. Roughly 40 percent of the new requests were filed on behalf of Fight for Schools. The organization is a watchdog group fighting for transparency from the school board.

In order to process the increase in requests, the district has doubled its staff according to school division Public Information Officer Wayde Byard. “LCPS is not seeking further resources at this time but has begun billing VFOIA requesters because it cannot handle the current volume free of charge.”

The school started billing for the requests, and in December, it made headlines when Byard told district parent and attorney Michelle Mege that it would cost $36,000 to fulfill her FOIA request.

Records show that Mege has filed about 95 requests since early March. One request was about specific sexual assault details at Stone Bridge High School over an incident that occurred on May 28 and a second at Broad Run High School on October 6.

Current Virginia FOIA law puts no limit on the number of requests that can be filed by an individual or entity, but it does allow for a reasonable fee to be paid within 30 days of the request. The public body is not required to fulfill the request if the fee is not paid.

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