Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today announced that the Albion Fire District settled a lawsuit acknowledging it violated 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.
Under the terms of the settlement, a $1,000 fine will be paid.
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 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. The Office filed its lawsuit in Rhode Island Superior Court on October 25, 2015.
"My Office makes it very easy for individuals to be properly trained in our open government laws, from our annual Open Government Summit to our year-round online training, as well as by providing in-house training to public bodies upon request. There is simply no reason for any public body to not be in compliance with the training requirement of the APRA and to certify its compliance," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "In addition, we are hosting a special Open Government 101 training this coming Monday for newly appointed and elected officials. I encourage all those who are in a position to respond to APRA requests to attend the training or to watch via livestream."
The Open Government 101 summit will be held on Monday, January 9, 2017 in the Bobby Hackett Theatre at the Community College of Rhode Island Warwick campus, 9:00 a.m. – 12 noon.
The program meets the training and certification requirements under the Access to Public Records Act. For employees newly appointed to handle APRA requests for their respective public bodies, the rules and regulations require certification within one month of being appointed to that position. The certification will be valid for 2017 and 2018.
To register, please call (401) 274-4400, ext. 2101, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in takes place from 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m.
An agenda and documents for the event will be available on the Attorney General's website at www.riag.ri.gov.