JCCC Responds to Student Lawsuit

Posted today on the Johnson County Community College email server, Infolist:

SPLC brings lawsuit against JCCC

Johnson County Community College has been notified of a lawsuit brought the Student Press Law Center and a former student regarding open records requests. The SPLC says the fees the college is asking to comply with the requests are excessive.

JCCC periodically receives and responds to Kansas Open Records Act requests. The SPLC and a former member of the Campus Ledger, the college’s student newspaper, have asked the college to produce these records:

  • Emails to and from a former college employee and the former executive director of the college’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, for Jan. 16-17, 2011, days admittedly chosen at random
  • All emails in December 2010 between the former employee and a professor
  • A list of all Kansas Open Records Act requests to the college and its responses for 2010-2011.

The college is working with counsel to reach a satisfactory outcome to the matter.

“The college always complies with Kansas Open Records Requests,” said Terry Calaway, JCCC president. “However, this request was unusual in both size and scope. Because the emails involve current and former employees, the college must take care to protect the privacy of the individuals involved, which entails advice from legal counsel. The college may also need to seek outside assistance so staff can retrieve the emails and make them available. Under Kansas law, the college is allowed to charge for the reasonable costs associated with the production of the requested documents.”

The Kansas Open Records Act allows the college to charge reasonable fees, not exceeding the actual cost, for access to records, copies of records, and staff time for processing a request. The fees charged equal the actual cost of furnishing copies, including the cost of staff time required to make copies or supervise the copying. Fees for providing access to computer records include the cost of computer services, including the staff time required. If the college needs to involve third parties in this process, requestors may be charged their costs as well. Access or inspection costs are based on hourly rates of the individuals involved.

It is estimated that the requests could cost up to $24,130.72 to completely fulfill. The college has provided a detailed accounting of the costs, including $9,745.96 for the one day of emails. As part of that amount, the college would need to spend $5,250 to contract with an outside agency for 25 hours of work at $210 per hour while staff restores emails from a tape backup. The college also estimates a cost of $13,264.76 to produce the emails from December, a total of four hours of legal work at $250 per hour, and $998 in photocopying costs for 4,990 pages at $.20 a page.

The Campus Ledger and its current staff are not a party to the open records request or to the lawsuit.

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