FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from Progress Michigan
May 5, 2015
Progress Michigan Appeals $52,000 FOIA Request Fee from Treasury
Organization questions if massive fees are attempt to keep information from the public
LANSING —Progress Michigan has filed an appeal with the Michigan Department of Treasury after the department claimed it would need over $52,000 to perform the basic search functions for a Freedom of Information Act request that was completed by other departments free of charge.
The appeal was filed April 28 with the Michigan Department of Treasury and begins: “This estimate is in essence a constructive denial of a request ostensibly granted and violates FOIA.”
On March 10, Progress Michigan sent a FOIA request to the Department of Treasury asking for “all communications with Paul Pastorek, education advisor.” Pastorek is an out-of-state education consultant who has been advising Gov. Rick Snyder.
The exact same FOIA request was sent to the Education Achievement Authority and the Michigan Department of Education, both of which responded by sending the records free of charge.
On April 3, the Treasury responded that it would cost $52,108.72 in staff time alone to search for the documents. That price tag did not include copying or mailing costs.
“The public has a right to these records and this ridiculous fee from the department leads us to wonder if there’s information regarding Paul Pastorek that the administration doesn’t want the public to see,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “It’s extremely frustrating that our broken FOIA laws allow this administration to stonewall the public from accessing information that rightly belongs to all of us.”
Pastorek is best known for his work in New Orleans, where he turned nearly the entire public school district into charter schools.Pastorek comes at a time when charter schools are under fire in Michigan for receiving $1 billion in state funding with little accountability and lackluster results. Recently, Gov. Snyder announced huge reforms to the Detroit Public School District, little is known about Pastorek’s involvement in the matter.