According to the Daily Wire, a Texas mother was informed that she would need to pay $7,000 in public records fees to obtain information about bullying incidents at her child’s school district.
Terrie Chumchal claims that her 13-year-old son was the victim of bullying verbally and physically at Joshua Independent School District middle school for more than two years.
According to the mother, multiple students had attacked her son because of his Korean-American heritage. Chumchal stated that her son, who is now in eighth grade was subject to a horrific assault that left him with an injured eardrum.
Chumchal filed a public record request in November to determine the number of incidents, bullying, assault, police, and grievance reports that were recorded with the school district from 2015 to 2022.
Chumchal claimed district officials had refused to help her get to the bottom of the bullying that was taking place in schools. Chumchal was instead told by district lawyers that she would need to pay $7111.12 in public records fees for access to the information.
“My son has been subject to bullying and physical assaults for more than two years.” “Different district administrators have given inconsistent answers when I asked them questions about these incidents,” Chumchal said, “Other families have expressed the same concerns and that is why they gave inconsistent answers.” “We have the right to know how serious these issues are in our district.” “Do I not have the right to see what is happening in my child’s school?”
According to the district, in order to provide Chumchal with the requested information, staff would need to compile 6,636 pages of incident reports, manually remove confidential information and scan all the documents into a file.
Warren Norred, Chumchal’s attorney at the Goldwater Institute, said that Chumchal did not ask for the content of the recorded incidents, but the total number of bullying reports. Redacting confidential information is not necessary.
According to the district, there are no “existing documents reflecting a total amount” or an automated system to run reports.
Norred, who volunteers his services to Chumchal’s, has filed an appeal with the Texas attorney general to contest the exorbitant fees.
Norred stated that parents shouldn’t be required to pay thousands of dollars to get basic information about their children’s schools. “Texas law on the subject is clear. I will fight this excessive public record fee and defend Terrie’s right to public information.”
Chumchal stated to the Daily Wire that he began to see a pattern in the district and it seems like they discourage people from asking for more information. Parents deserve to be informed if the kind of cruel and horrific bullying my son was subjected to is widespread.
Chumchal said, “Our family’s experience was difficult and stressful.” “I hope that my sharing will encourage others to stand up for their rights.” “Parents are often silenced because of the possibility of retaliation.” “However, I believe that if we stand up, we can make a difference and ensure that other families and children don’t suffer.”