Tennessee DCS would charge $35,000 to provide public records

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The state agency that oversees the welfare of Tennessee children is again at financial odds with news organizations seeking more information.

The Tennessean reported the Department of Children's Services said this week that it would charge $34,952 to produce public records of children who died or nearly died during the past 11 months after having some contact with DCS.

The new fee emerged Wednesday as the newspaper asked for files from July 2012 to May 2013. The two sides were scheduled to go back to court Friday.

Attorney Robb Harvey, who represents a coalition of news organizations which also includes The Associated Press, said the group would continue to object to "excessive fees that the state is attempting to impose."

A judge earlier struck down DCS' intent to charge more than $55,000 for records - later reduced to $32,000 - and ordered the department to produce them for no more than 50 cents per page.

Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper, whose legal team is defending DCS in the public records lawsuit, did not directly respond to a request for comment.

"We don't have anything that we can add," said the attorney general's spokeswoman Sharon Curtis-Flair.

Gov. Bill Haslam also declined comment.