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PR 15-30 Access/Rhode Island v. Newport School Department Violation found

Even though Access/Rhode Island did not have standing to file this complaint, we reviewed this complaint consistent with this Department's independent statutory authority as described in West Warwick School Department, PR 15-23. Access/Rhode Island alleged that the School Department violated the APRA when it failed to provide APRA certification forms to this Department evidencing APRA training pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-3.16, when it failed to promulgate and post APRA procedures to its website, and when it failed to respond timely to a MuckRock APRA request. The evidence demonstrated that a School Department employee had received APRA training in January 2014, yet had not submitted an APRA certification form to the Department of Attorney General, and the evidence also revealed that the School Department failed to promulgate and post its APRA procedures to its website. These violations have since been remedied. With respect to Access/Rhode Island's allegation that the School Department responded to MuckRock's APRA request in an untimely manner, the evidence demonstrated that the School Department timely asserted an extension of time pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-3(e) and 38-2-7(b), and subsequently timely denied access to the requested records since the School Department did not maintain the requested records. R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-3(h). Although Access/Rhode Island's rebuttal took no issue with the fact that the School Department provided a "timely" response, Access/Rhode Island argued that the School Department's assertion of an extension was not "appropriate" pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-3(e). Since this allegation concerning the "appropriateness" of the School Department's extension was not raised in Access/Rhode Island's complaint, and therefore, was raised for the first time during its rebuttal, this Department declined to address this issue where the School Department had no opportunity to present evidence or arguments.

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