Judge orders Blaine County to reduce fees for records request

A judge has ordered the Blaine County School District to lower the costs of fulfilling a records request after a lawsuit was filed seeking school officials’ telephone and email records.

GwenCarol Holmes
GewnCarol Holmes

The Idaho Mountain Express reported on Friday that Judge Robert Elgee ordered the central Idaho school district to find a way to lower the $3,120 fee for access to emails between Blaine County Prosecutor Jim Thomas and school officials.

At issue are 704 emails that date to when the district’s board members were weighing a contract extension for Superintendent GwenCarol Holmes.

Last month, district patrons and the citizens group Coalition for Blaine County School District Accountability filed suit seeking access to the records after receiving the $3,120 bill from the district.

In a hearing last week, Elgee suggested the district drive down costs for processing the records by having lower-paid employees handle the copying, review and redaction work to process the records.

“I don’t see why a secretary couldn’t do that either,” The Idaho Mountain Express quoted Elgee as saying.

Under Idaho open records laws, government agencies are allowed to charge fees when records requests exceed 100 pages or take more than two hours of staff time to fulfill.

Elgee also asked district officials to contact Verizon Wireless to seek access to Holmes’ cell phone records, which the Coalition for Blaine County School District Accountability also sought in a separate records request.