Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today filed a lawsuit in Superior Court citing the Albion Fire District for a willful and knowing, or reckless, violation of the State's Access to Public Records Act (APRA) for failure to submit to the Office of Attorney General a form certifying that an individual(s) had been trained in APRA as required by statute despite several notices from the Attorney General notifying the Fire District of its obligation.
By law, every public body must have at least one designated individual who is trained and certified to grant or deny all APRA requests for that public body. That person(s) is assigned to this role by the Chief Administrative Officer of the public body. Any person who is assigned to grant or deny APRA requests must certify to the Chief Administrative Officer and the Office of Attorney General that he or she viewed the entire APRA presentation or attended one a live training program within the prior calendar year.
Certification for the following calendar year must be completed and submitted to the Office of Attorney General by January 1st of the current year. If an individual has become authorized to coordinate APRA requests during the calendar year, he/she must complete the training and return proof of certification to the Office of Attorney General within one month of the designation.
On January 20, 2015, the Office of Attorney General notified the Albion Fire District that the Office had not received the APRA certification form as required by APRA for calendar year 2015. The Office subsequently sent the Fire District two additional notices, on February 6, 2015 and February 24, 2015, that the Office had still not received the certification form despite communication from the Fire District indicating the certification form was forthcoming.
The Office received the proper certification form on March 3, 2015, only after the Office initiated an investigation.
"Since the 2012 updates to APRA, my office has increased access to trainings both in person and online. Training is an important aspect to public employees knowing their responsibility to be responsive and transparent when receiving public records request," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
The maximum penalty under the APRA is $2,000 for each knowing and willful violation. A reckless violation carries a maximum penalty of $1000 for each violation.