We need your help to pry the School open

Acton Forum has been doing a lengthy series on the departure of a long-time school employee and top administrator who left the School system last September but continued to be paid for the remainder of the school year, with potentially excessive payments of at least $100,000. We have tried to find out how and why this happened but have been stonewalled.

For a recent summary of where we are, see the last article on this topic: The Huber-O'Connell mystery, http://www.actonforum.com/story/huber-oconnell-mystery. We have more information coming soon.

We started investigating this issue last February. At first, the School refused to release any information. But after appeals to the state, we have slowly started to pry open their veil of secrecy. Our last batch of documents cost us $245 and we got seven emails. The School also narrowly construed our request to limit what would be provided. This appears to be an attempt to limit our requests by taking over six months to comply and charging us hundreds of dollars.

So we submitted another document request, this time broader in scope. This would cover the materials we originally wanted. This round, they want an additional $280.

This brings their total fee to produce public documents on this one matter to over $500. So much for reasonable public access to information.

So while the School asks Acton Forum to pay all this money to perform a public service by increasing transparency on how our tax money is spent, the School has meanwhile squandered over $20,000 in legal fees through the end of July to prevent this disclosure. (See http://actonforum.com/sites/default/files/School_Response_Req_090815.pdf).

That doesn't count the wasted staff time which we are told has also been substantial, so much so that the School is now proposing that another employee be hired in part to deal with (preventing the disclosure of) public document requests.

Our last investment of $245 didn't produce much of value, but we have appealed the documents withheld and the redactions made to what was produced. So now we are seeking to get the rest of the emails and memos related to this issue. And we are asking for our readers' and the public's help.

We have setup a crowdfunding webpage on Fund Anything which can be accessed here: https://fundanything.com/en/campaigns/transparency-for-taxpayers-with-ac...

Anyone who wants to contribute any amount is welcomed to help share this burden. If we raise the funds we need, we will order the documents and see what is provided, and will appeal any redactions or withheld documents like we did before.

The website accepts all major credit cards and all fees will be deducted from our end, so what you contribute is what you spend. And if we end up getting some type of rebate back when our appeals are heard, we will send back excess donations to all non-anonymous contributors.

If you are inclined to make a donation, please do so immediately as we have a limited amount of time to respond to the fee request.

For a copy of the School's response to our latest request for documents and how they calculate the $280 fee, you can read their email here: http://actonforum.com/sites/default/files/School_Response_Req_090115.pdf.

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