NASHVILLE — The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has told a judge that news organizations should pay nearly $56,000 to get copies of 200 files on children who died or were seriously injured following state investigations of abuse or neglect.
Deputy Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter said in a court filing made just hours before DCS Commissioner Kate O’Day resigned Tuesday that it would take nearly 1,800 hours of labor to produce, redact and copy the records. The filing said 600 hours of redacting would be done by outside paralegals hired at a cost of $30 an hour.
DCS estimated it will take 60 hours and more than 7,000 miles of driving to transport records to the central office.
Nashville Chancellor Carol McCoy directed the state to estimate the costs after ruling the documents should be released in a public records lawsuit led by The Tennessean. Joining the lawsuit were The Associated Press, Chattanooga Times Free Press, Knoxville News Sentinel, The Commercial Appeal, WBIR-TV, WKRN-TV, WREG-TV, WSMV-TV, Tennessee Associated Press Broadcasters, Tennessee Press Association and Tennessee Coalition for Open Government.
The cost of the copies that will be released to the news organizations, at 15 cents per page for 9,000 pages, amounted to $1,350 of the estimated charges.
The state’s cost estimate listed:
— $1,081.74 to retrieve files from local offices.
— $5,960.34 to drive the records to regional offices and then to Nashville
— $8,575 to sort the relevant records from the files.
— $27,000 to pay paralegals to redact the files and double-check the redactions.
— $516 for white-out tape.
— $1,907.26 to copy the redacted files.
— $7,042.08 to return the records to local offices and re-file them.
— $3,502.13 for supervision.
The state said it used a “schedule of reasonable charges” compiled by the state Office of Open Records to calculate the cost and wouldn’t be willing to waive the charges.