Public record violations cited

Staff report

COLUMBUS — Three public entities in Shelby County were cited for violating public records laws in 2016, according to Auditor Dave Yost.

Anna Local Schools, Franklin Township and Perry Township were all found to be in violation of the “availability of public records and policies related thereto.” Franklin Township was also cited for not having public records training.

State auditors issued 414 public records-related citations to 357 public entities in calendar year 2016, Yost announced Monday, the first day of Sunshine Week.

In addition to the three Shelby County citations, a citation was also issued to the village of New Bremen for failing to have public records training.

The majority of citations stemmed from officials neglecting to attend state-required public records trainings, entities lacking public records policies or a failure to make the policy readily available to employees and the general public. Auditors routinely review public records practices during audits.

“Public records and transparency are not a matter of instinct. It requires training and that’s why it’s in the law,” Yost said. “When you take the public paycheck, you take the obligation to get trained. These documents belong to the people.”

While townships represented 16.7 percent of the 4,088 reports released in 2016, they represented 30.8 percent of the public record citations. Similarly, villages represented 8.7 percent of reports, but were responsible for 23.8 percent of citations.

• Townships: 16.7 percent of all reports released; 30.8 percent of all entities cited

• Villages: 8.7 percent of all reports released; 23.8 percent of all entities cited

• School Districts: 16.1 percent of all reports released; 7.8 percent of all entities cited

• Community Schools: 9.4 percent of all reports released; 5.6 percent of all entities cited

A total of 43 entities had multiple citations, with some receiving as many as four: the City of Ironton (Lawrence County), Clinton Township (Franklin County), Fayette Township (Lawrence County), Monroe Township (Perry County) and the Springfield Academy of Excellence (Clark County).

Both the Auditor’s office and the Office of the Ohio Attorney General offer public records trainings to public employees. More information about compliance requirements for Ohio’s public records laws is included in Auditor of State Bulletin 2011-006.

A spreadsheet of all public records citations from 2016 is available here.

Sunshine Week runs from March 12-18 and occurs every mid-March, coinciding with the National Freedom of Information Day on March 16.

Staff report