The open-government site Sunshine Review found that despite Florida’s strong open records law, obtaining information on public schools is still a daunting process for private citizens, the group’s editor wrote in the Orlando Sentinel.
As part of the nonprofit transparency group’s Back to School project, it filed public records requests with Florida schools seeking information on school lobbyists. Though the schools largely answered the requests, it was often either too expensive or time consuming to benefit the average individual.
In one instance, Sarasota County Schools charged $2,954.25 to have a request filled. Others handed over large amounts of data with no index. One district denied any lobbyist relationships, despite documentation of the contrary.
“School districts should enact policies to ensure all new records are stored electronically and are searchable," wrote the Sunshine Review’s Diana Lopez. "Until school districts, and other government entities, are transparent to the point where all related activities are posted online, private citizens will continue paying the price for information that is meant to be free.”