By Associated Press - Monday, February 17, 2020

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The city of Frontenac violated the Kansas Open Records Act when it sought to charge a reporter $3,500 to receive public records involving a leadership shakeup in the southeast Kansas town, Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Monday.

The reporter, from KOAM-TV, was seeking public records involving the firing of the city administrator, city clerk and city attorney in September, which prompted the mayor to resign. The council also reinstated a city clerk who had been fired a few weeks earlier.

All the actions were taken without public discussion or a private meeting to discuss personnel issues. The shakeup has never been publicly explained.

The Pittsburg Morning-Sun also submitted an open records request about the firings but the action referenced in Schmidt’s news release Monday mentioned only the KOAM request.

Schmidt said the city’s violated the open records request by not explaining or justifying its $3,500 fee and a request for $225 per hour for its attorney, which he said was unreasonable.

Frontenac officials were ordered to undergo training on the open records law, to establish procedures to avoid violating the law in the future and to adopt procedures for calculating actual costs for responding to open records requests.

Frontenac city offices were closed Monday.

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