Northern Lebanon School District claims Right-to-Know requests costing thousands of dollars

LEBANON COUNTY, Pa. -- A school district in Lebanon County is claiming it has paid thousands of dollars to keep up with the demand of Right-to-Know (RTK) requests

One parent, who frequently files the requests, says he just wants to know where taxpayer dollars are being spent and keep the district honest.

At first glance, you might think this is a manuscript - wrong.

It's actually page after page of the requests, filed by several concerned parents in the Northern Lebanon School District, including Andrew Murphy.

“I look for information for finances. I look for information on - did they do mandatory reporting, like they are supposed to do. Did they hold people accountable?” explained Murphy.

Murphy says he’s just trying to get the answers he, as a taxpayer, deserves.

He claims the district isn’t acting in the best interest of its students or the people who pay its checks.

"The board is not reigning in the administration. They get away with whatever they want. Bullying is run rampant in the school. There’s fights just about every day," he said.

Nate Erdman, Vice President of the Northern Lebanon School Board, addressed how much these requests have cost the district at the last meeting.

He claimed $5,900 in November and $2,800 in December, adding that the district doesn't yet have its January 2019 RTK costs tallied yet.

"That’s $8,600 in two months," said Erdman.

According to our math, it’s actually $8,700, but Erdman claims it will cost a lot more than that by the end of this year.

"That comes out to — if my Phys Ed math is right, I think that’s $51,600 for the year that we’re on pace to spend for Right-to-Knows,"added Erdman.

We called the Pennsylvania Office of Open Records to find out if that could be considered a nuisance.

"There is very limited ability for agencies to deny requests based on volume of them, as long as they’re asking for different records each time," said Erik Arneson, the executive director of the Pa. Office of Open Records.

Arneson says if requests are denied, people can always appeal to his office - no lawyers needed and at no cost.

Arneson says his office just needs evidence and arguments from both sides, and within about a month’s time, an attorney with Arneson's office will make a decision... release the record or not.

At the meeting, Erdman urged people to resolve their concerns on a more personal level, saying it’s less expensive and better for the district when the solicitor isn’t involved.

Arneson says the Pa. Office of Open Records does encourage that.

FOX43 emailed the district with more specific questions and requested an interview. However, an official has yet to get  back to us.

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