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PR 16-07 Warwick Post v. Warwick School Department; Warwick Beacon v. Warwick School Committee; Howell v. City of Warwick - Violation Found

All APRA requests sought two oral reports ("Reports"), which were presented to the School Committee in executive session and concerned the School Committee's review of the handling of accusations of inappropriate conduct. The APRA exempts from public disclosure "[a]ll investigatory records of public bodies, with the exception of law enforcement agencies, pertaining to possible violations of statute, rule, or regulation other than records of final actions taken provided that all records prior to formal notification of violations or noncompliance shall not be deemed to be public." R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-2(4)(P). Warwick submitted the Reports constituted "investigatory records," but failed to address the "statute, rule or regulation" that served as the basis for the School Committee's investigation, and thus implicated Exemption (P). Warwick's failure to identify the "statute, rule or regulation" that was possibly violated was fatal to its assertion that the portions of the Reports constituted "investigatory records of public bodies * * * pertaining to possible violations of statute, rule or regulation." We concluded that the information contained in the Reports that address how the school administration handled this matter must be disclosed.

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