On December 17 I made a Freedom of Information request to the members of the Windsor Board of Education and Superintendent Villar. I requested all communication from January 1, 2010 through December 17, 2012, including e-mail, fax, and postal correspondence, that has pertained to the following subjects: ethnicity, race, and culture; the Equity and Excellence Review; Dr. Marlon James; Loyola University; the Alliance Grant, including communication about the addendum; the Windsor achievement gap; and Parent Resource for Excellence in Scholastic Success (P.R.E.S.S.). I requested all communication regarding subjects noted above between Members of the Windsor Board of Education, Superintendent Villar, Dr. Marlon James, and any staff, faculty, or administration of Loyola University.
On December 18 I received an e-mail response from Superintendent Villar that included: "Since your request involves all communications of potentially dozens of individuals concerning a number of topics over a two year period, the district will not be able to respond to your request within ninety-six hours... Please note that the Freedom of Information Act allows for public agencies to charge for the copying of requested documents. The district charges $.50 per page. Should the total amount due for the requested copies exceed $10, prepayment will be required."
On December 19 I responded, "Since I am requested such extensive documentation, I would like to amend my immediate request to include all correspondence between yourself, Doreen Richardson, and Dr. Marlon James dating back to January 1, 2010."
He then confirmed receipt of the amended request, and I e-mailed thank you...
I received an e-mail today from Dr. Villar that stated: "Initial reviews indicate that the documents requested in your amended request total a minimum of 411 pages. The district will be happy to print these documents for a cost of .50 per page. Please indicate if you would like to arrange to pick up these documents next week."
My reaction to that e-mail was: WOW - that is $205.50! So the only way that any taxpaying constituent of Windsor is going to have an opportunity for an un-biased and completely transparent view of the the communication between BOE members, Superintendent Villar, and Dr. Marlon James, is by paying the same BOE that we gave $48,883,774.00 tax dollars to this year, with nearly $600K more allocated in the upcoming year's budget?
I responded to Dr. Villar this evening with the following email: "Thank you for looking into this for me. Unfortunately, as someone who makes less than $20,000 annually, this cost would place a burden on my family. In actuality, the $205.50 would be my next month gas and electricity payment. Given my financial situation, would it possible for the Windsor Board of Education to waive this fee? I can provide my last year tax return as verification of my poverty status."
Please note that as Dr. Villar stated, the Freedom of Information Act "allows" towns to charge for the copying of requested documents. Allows indicates that towns have the option, and there is no set fee.
So as someone who is working their way out of poverty, I guess that I will just have to concede to this marginalization and decline if there is no exception. There is no way that I can put this month's utility money towards getting these documents.
I am sorry readers. Maybe someone can make the same request and get a hold of those documents. I would be more than happy to pour over the information and develop a report for the public. If anyone is interested, my e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Oh - and for the record, I work full-time and I am completing graduate school this May! I am working as hard as I can to move up from the lower working class, and I pay my taxes : ) Check that - I happily pay my taxes.
To be continued...