Mom Charged Nearly $1,300 To Review Book Lists At Her Child’s School

A Texas school district charged a mom $1,300 after she requested to know what reading materials her kindergartner was given.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

Pediatricians Say Children With Head Lice Should Remain In School

Texas school district

Education transparency is a big issue. Parents who wish to know what their children are taught and what kinds of materials they have access to are finding that some districts believe that knowledge comes with a hefty price tag. One Texas school district proved this when they billed a  mother nearly $1,300 just to receive a classroom booklist.

The law also notes that these fees must only cover the cost of photocopying. But that did not stop the Fort Worth Independent School District from attempting to charge a mother for labor fees to find paperwork and send it to her. Jenny Crossland requested a simple booklist of reading materials made available to kindergarten students. The school in question claimed that this list would require 84.5 hours of labor. Then when another mother requested the same information regarding her 8th-grade daughter, the Texas school district sent her the same bill. 

A complaint has now been filed with the state Attorney General’s office, and gained backing from the Goldwater Institute. The Goldwater Institute argues that The Texas school district has intentionally charged exorbitant amounts for the release of reasonable information to specifically “keep parents in the dark.” While some educators believe that parents are not qualified to determine what children should read, public schools are funded by taxpayers, as are private schools which charge regular tuition fees. Not only are mothers and fathers directly funding these institutions, those who wish to be involved in their children’s education are now finding that to be fully involved in their children’s learning process, they have to fight against potentially secretive districts and politically biased teachers. 

This is not the first time that schools have attempted to overcharge parents for simple information. Overcharging for education information is just one tactic that some districts are allegedly using to prevent parents from accessing lesson content. Unfortunately for the Texas school district, this goes against state law — which requires “reasonable” rates to be charged for access to public records under 50 pages. 

The Texas school district has not commented on the situation, but their school has a  budget over $800 million. This unaudited amount includes over $15 million in “other” services. Just what that funding covers is not listed, but still parents are being asked to pay close to $1,300 to know what books kindergartners have access to. 

Whether this is a case of mismanagement and the Texas school district’s inability to properly catalog library materials, or a sinister move to prevent parents from knowing what young children are reading has yet to be determined. As parents continue fighting schools for curriculum transparency, schools are continuing to experience enrollment drops and teacher shortages. This politicization of education information isn’t likely to remedy the situation any time soon. 

Texas school district

What the state Attorney General determines may offer some insight and further movements which support parental rights. For now, parents who wish to learn about what their children in the district are reading will be billed a hefty amount. Whether the Texas school district’s book list information can continue to cost such a high rate is dependent upon this case.