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PR 15-36 Access/Rhode Island v. Department of Labor and Training 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 Department of Labor and Training ("DLT") 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, and when it failed to respond in a timely manner to two (2) MuckRock APRA requests. Although the evidence demonstrated that the designated DLT public records officer received APRA training in 2013, which would have been applicable for calendar year 2014, no evidence was submitted that an APRA certification form had been submitted for this training. Accordingly, this violated the APRA. Additionally, the evidence indicated that the DLT failed to respond in a timely manner to MuckRock's APRA request by one (1) day. Based upon the evidence presented, it appears this omission was the result of, as Access/Rhode Island phrased it, an "imprecise email sent by" another agency, which DLT believed was responding on its behalf. Regarding Access/Rhode Island's allegation that a second APRA request had not been timely responded to by DLT, we found no violation. The evidence indicated that MuckRock had sent this APRA request via facsimile and the evidence presented by DLT established that it had not received this facsimile APRA request. See R.I. Gen. Laws 38-2-3(e)("A public body receiving a request shall permit the inspection or copying within ten (10) business days after receiving a request.")(emphases added). Access/Rhode Island attempted to rebut the DLT's position that it never received this APRA request by presenting a facsimile confirmation sheet, but this confirmation sheet pertained to MuckRock's first APRA request (made on April 29, 2014) and did not pertain to MuckRock's second APRA request, which was at issue (allegedly made on June 9, 2014). Because neither Access/Rhode Island nor MuckRock was able to present evidence to rebut the DLT's position, we found that the DLT received this second APRA request on June 24, 2014 and timely responded to this second APRA request on July 3, 2014.

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