Wellesley Schools Overcharging for Public Records: Prince Lobel Appeals Cost Estimate on Behalf of Wellesley Townsman

August 15, 2012

In January 2012, a Wellesley Townsman reporter submitted a public records request to the Wellesley Public Schools seeking emails sent between January 2010 and January 2012 among the town’s former school superintendent, former business manager, and members of the School Committee.

The town provided an itemized “good faith” estimate totaling $13,165.80. Included in the estimate were charges for copying and reviewing hard copy documents, even though the documents were requested in electronic form.  In an effort to lower the cost, the Townsman revised its original request, asking for emails from a significantly shorter time period.

Prince Lobel attorneys filed an appeal on behalf of the Townsman, asking the Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records (SPR) to order the Wellesley Public Schools to release the documents at a substantially reduced rate.

On August 6, 2012, the SPR ruled that the Wellesley Public Schools “did not provide the Townsman with a ‘good faith’ estimate of costs related to a public records request. Specifically, the SPR ruled that the school did not meet its burden in charging for copying costs, despite the Townsman’s request that the e-mails be delivered in electronic format.”

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