Shawnee Mission School District asks for $1,000 prepayment in order to comply with open records requests

SM South area representative Deb Zila.
SM South area representative Deb Zila.

On Tuesday, March 7, the Shawnee Mission Post filed two Kansas Open Records Act requests with the Shawnee Mission School District seeking correspondence related to the hiring of Mallory Zila, the daughter of former Board of Education President and current SM South area representative Deb Zila, by CBIZ, the school district’s benefits and insurance contractor. The KORA requests sought the following information:

  • All electronic mail records on district administration servers referencing Mallory Zila sent or received between April 1, 2016 and August 30, 2016
  • All electronic mail correspondence between Deb Zila and Jim Hinson from Jan. 1, 2016 to Dec. 31, 2016

On Friday, we received a response from the school district indicating that it anticipated it would take around 20 hours of staff time to comply with the requests, and asking for a prepayment of $1,054 before moving forward. The district also indicated that its technology department’s move to the new Center for Academic Achievement would delay their ability to begin work on a request until April 3. The full response letter from Director of Communications Erin Little is below (click to enlarge the image if you can’t read it):


We replied to the letter with a request for a breakdown in the hours the district anticipated it would take to fulfill each of the individual KORA requests, not both requests together. We also asked for clarification as to why the district was quoting a price of $52.70 for staff time when the district’s KORA request form quotes $20 per hour for administrative time and $10 per hour for secretarial time. The district’s response to that inquiry is below:


In an effort to reduce the cost to the Shawnee Mission Post as well as the demand on district staff time, we will be filing new KORA requests on the matter this week that are more limited in scope.

We are also still waiting on responses to the following questions we sent to Zila, Little and Board of Education President Sara Goodburn on Wednesday, March 8, seeking clarification on the hiring process that led to Mallory’s employment with CBIZ:

  • 1.) What criteria did the district have for CBIZ for the role filled by Mallory Zila when it entered into the agreement? That is, what function was this CBIZ employee supposed to be filling?
  • 2.) How much is the district paying CBIZ for the functions Mallory Zila carries out?
  • 3.) How did Mallory Zila hear about the position? Was there a competitive interview process?
  • 4.) What skills or experience does Mallory Zila have the make her well suited for the position?

We’ll update this story or publish a new one if and when we get any response to these items.