Friday, January 12, 2007


Board of Education wants big bucks for tape recording of meeting

I received a letter dated January 9, 2007 from Karen Knudsen, Chairperson of the Board of Education, requesting a preliminary payment of $880 for estimated costs of redacting the audiotape of the secret meeting on September 7, 2006 at which Jim Shon was fired. Recall that the BOE action was not on the agenda, and so the action should either have taken place at another time or been open to the public.

The Office of Information Practices ruled that the redacted audiotape should be made public. So will I pay the BOE $880 (estimated) for information that should have been available for free? No.

The BOE letter cited Hawaii Administrative Rules 2-71-13 as authority for the charge. I took a look at the rules. There is a provision that $5 per fifteen minutes of time redacting may be charged. Let's see... that would come to about 44 hours of work. Does that seem just a wee bit excessive to you? I know things go slowly at the Board of Education, but more than a whole week's work to redact a tape! Give me a break.

There is another provision that might be a loophole for them. If they send it out, they can charge for the cost of the service, perhaps. I'm not sure how to interpret that section. Surely, the law doesn't intend to provide a way to gouge the public when a public record is requested.

The OIP must be tired of this case. And Jim Shon has moved on. It's old news. While I feel the record should be made completely available to the public, I don't have money to spend on this, and they know it.

Have I lost? No. The BOE has shown themselves to be secretive, manipulative, and violators of state law. They did that all by themselves, it didn't cost me anything at all. They have likely alienated the charter school community even more than they did when they fired Jim Shon.


Aloha Larry,
Assuming they already have a redacted version of the tape that can be copied, I wonder what it costs the second requester, and the third, etc., to get a copy of the tape. What if dozens of people, even a hundred or more people, request a copy of the redacted tape? How would they prorate the charge? Or would they charge each requester the ridiculous amount of $880 or whatever it was? I'm willing to chip in my taxpayer's share if needed. Just an idea. Regardless, I very much appreciate your work on this and I am certainly not tired of the story. I am very tired, however, of the supreme arrogance of the obstructionists running the BOE. As I've posted in the past on, this BOE is only making the concept of localized school boards more and more attractive to people who have opposed it in the past.

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