Stupid Is As Stupid Does
BY JUSTIN OWEN
The Sumner County School District is bound and determined to make this year’s Lump of Coal Award shortlist. We previously reported that the school district was squandering precious resources defending an antiquated policy for accepting public records requests. The school district literally refuses to accept public records requests by email or phone, and it’s spent more than $113,000 in attorney and court costs to justify this stupid policy.
The district now claims that it will cost an outlandish sum to “update” its website and phone system to accept public records requests in any way other than in person or by snail mail. From the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government:
In a new affidavit by [Assistant Director for Information Services Chris] Brown attached to the motion, he said that updating the website to receive public records requests would cost $45,660, about 150 hours of programmer time and annual licensing fees of $1,000. He said updating the phone system to receive public records requests by phone would require buying an additional pair of local servers, also at $45,660, then 30 days to install and configure them. To receive requests by email would mean annual licensing fees would increase by $22,500.
Huh? All it takes to accept public records requests by email is to provide an email address to which requests can be sent. I’d probably be able to add this to the district’s website in two minutes, and I’m technologically illiterate. And the only technology needed to accept requests over the phone are (a) a working phone line and (b) a live human to answer said phone.
No one ever accused government of being efficient, but just about every government entity in Tennessee is able to accept public records requests over the phone or by email. Refusing to do so doesn’t make Sumner County Schools incompetent; it makes them active aggressors against taxpayers and children. Every dollar they waste defending their asinine policy is one less dollar that can be spent educating kids. Shame on them.