The president of the Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills Elementary District 181 Board said he hopes to see reform on requirements for Freedom of Information Act requests.
Marty Turek said Oct. 28 something needs to be done about the amount of time sometimes required to fulfill FOIA requests, after seven completed requests in the past month resulted in 60-plus hours of work by Superintendent Renee Schuster and district staff at an estimated cost of $4,559.
It’s frivolous,” Turek said of the FOIA request that resulted in the extreme cost of time and money to the district.
The seven requests took more than 60 hours to complete because they included requests for emails, presentations, documents and information that at times cover a considerable time frame and reference multiple individuals, said Bridget McGuiggan, District 181’s director of communications. Additionally, a single FOIA can include several requests, McGuiggan said.
McGuiggan said the $4,559 cost of completing the requests is an approximate calculation of the hours spent multiplied by the number of people involved and their approximate salaries, if calculated by the hour.
Board member Michael Nelson supported Turek’s plan to contact state Rep. Patti Bellock, R-47th, of Hinsdale.
“I think the FOIA process is being used as a tactic for bullying,” Nelson said, referring to the considerable information being sought through such requests by former board member Yvonne Mayer.
Board members Mridu Garg and Brendan Heneghan didn’t agree.
“We have a duty to provide information when someone makes a request,” Garg said.
Heneghan said he believes District 181 sometimes is its own worst enemy when it comes to issues with handling FOIA requests.
“I filed a request myself and felt like I had to jump through hoops to get the information,” he said. “Sometimes, the way we handle things leads to this.”
The district completed seven FOIA requests from Sept. 23 to Oct. 28, including three from Mayer, one from her husband, Jeffrey Mayer, and one each from the Des Plaines Valley Council of the Boy Scouts, a representative of Fortnightly (a Hinsdale organization that offers dance lessons); Hinsdale residents David and Amy Alex; and The Doings.