Student reporter gets $8,000 FOIA bill from school district

Posted at 6:56 PM, Dec 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-06 18:56:22-05

PLYMOUTH, Mich. (AP) — A big potential bill for a Freedom of Information Act request by a suburban Detroit high school newspaper reporter ended up teaching lessons about getting to public records.

Michigan Radio reports Chris Robbins wanted to figure out why teachers and students weren’t allowed to use Pinterest and other websites blocked by Plymouth-Canton Community Schools, so the Salem High School senior sent a FOIA request.

He initially sought emails in which teachers and staff appealed blocked websites. In response, administrators said it would cost $7,917.15 to provide Robbins with that information. He appealed and then was told it would cost $8,806.

District spokesman Nick Brandon says they “treated it like any FOIA request.”

In a document, the district broke down the costs claiming it would take someone, who is paid nearly $50 an hour and 176 hours total, to get his information, according to FOX 2 Detroit.

With help from others, The Detroit News reports Robbins narrowed the request and documents were received for free.