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PR 15-31 Access/Rhode Island v. East Greenwich 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 post its promulgated APRA procedures on its website, and when it failed to respond in a timely manner to two (2) MuckRock APRA requests. The School Department acknowledged that it failed to timely provide APRA certification forms to this Department and that it failed to appropriately post its promulgated APRA procedures to its website. Both violations have since been remedied. Access/Rhode Island further alleged that the School Department failed to respond in a timely manner to MuckRock's APRA request seeking written procedures for access to an agency's public records, but the evidence established that the School Department did provide a timely reply to this request and even Access/Rhode Island's rebuttal acknowledged that "[t]he [School] Department did provide a reply in a timely manner." Despite the acknowledged timely reply, Access/Rhode Island alleged that the School Department's response was otherwise inappropriate or non-responsive to MuckRock's APRA request, but this issue was not raised until Access/Rhode Island's rebuttal and therefore, this Department declined to address an issue first raised in a rebuttal where the School Department had no opportunity to present evidence or argument. The School Department did not timely respond to MuckRock's June 27, 2014 APRA request seeking documents relating to teacher layoffs despite not having any responsive documents. The School Department's failure to timely respond to this request violated the APRA and this Department directed the School Department to provide a supplemental response concerning whether such a failure should be considered willful and knowing, or reckless, which would subject the School Department to civil fines.

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