Media organizations in Tennessee are balking at the amount the Department of Children’s Services is charging for copies of records related to DCS cases.
The media outlets have for months been seeking records for children with prior DCS contact who died or nearly died in the months leading up to July, 2012. After a judge ordered copies of 50 such cases to be handed over to journalists, the DCS tried to charge $9,000 for the records.
The Tennessean newspaper reports its attorney, Robb Harvey, has filed a complaint with the judge point out that the amount the DCS is seeking is nearly nine times what the judge had previously said was reasonable.
DCS attorneys say the extra costs are necessary so that paralegals can be hired and trained to review the case records that are being released to media.
The Tennessee Department of Children's Services is reviewing its actions after a 17-year-old boy the agency was supervising gunned down a fellow high school student.
The Tennessean reports the teen was released from the DCS's Woodland Hills Development Center for delinquent youth in December. He was required to have regular monthly phone calls and visits with a caseworker, but at the time of the April 11 shooting no one at the agency had been able to make contact with him for nearly two months.
Interim DCS commissioner Jim Henry said he believes the agency acted appropriately but is assessing its actions. Henry said there was little in the teen's past to suggest he was capable of murder.
The teen is in juvenile detention awaiting a June 28 hearing.
The Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has been ordered to provide media outlets with case files involving fatalities and near-fatalities of children under the group’s watch. A Davidson County judge say the DCS has until May 3 to turn over the initial batch of records being sought by Tennessee media organizations.
The Tennessean reports the state must provide the 50 most recent cases involving 2012 deaths and near-deaths of children under the supervision of the DCS. Initially, several media groups had sought 200 records.
Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy says the case files will include information on how and why a child may have died or suffered critical injuries. McCoy also greatly decreased the cost the state wanted to charge the media groups for copies of the files.
State lawyers had initially set the price tag at over $55,000. That has been decreased to a little over $1,000.