Attorney General Peter Kilmartin's office has filed an Access to Public Records Act (APRA) suit against Woonsocket School Superintendent’s Office for a knowing and willful violation of the law.
The violation occurred when Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan's office failed to respond to a Dec. 1, 2012 request from Cynthia Boss for documents pertaining to the Woonsocket School Sick Leave Pool Board of Governors, according to a release from the AG's office.
The Superintendent's office extended the usual 10 business day deadline to an additional 20 business days under APRA, giving them until Jan. 15, 2013, but then failed to meet that deadline as well. The documents were not delivered to Boss until March 7, fifty-one days past the extended deadline, according to Kilmartin's office.
Donoyan's office finally released the documents in response to the Attorney General's investigation of Boss's APRA complaint.
A charge of a willful violation does not necessarily mean a public body does so with the intent to advance its own interest or to shield its actions from public scrutiny, according to Kilmartin's office.
Instead, the standard is whether the public body is cognizant that it may be subject to the APRA and fails to take reasonable steps to address the issue. "It is clear in this instance that the Woonsocket Superintendent’s Office was aware it was a public body subject to APRA, yet failed to take steps necessary to ensure its compliance with the statute,” Kilmartin said.
The maximum penalty for knowing and willful violations under APRA is $2,000.