357 Ohio governments violated public records law in 2016, auditor says

Cleveland Plain Dealer | Jackie Borchardt

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Officials in hundreds of Ohio cities, villages, school districts and other local governments did not receive public records training or follow other parts of Ohio’s public records law requirements, according to Ohio Auditor Dave Yost’s office.

State auditors issued 414 public records-related citations to 357 public entities in 2016, based on information collected during that year’s audits.

The tally was released Sunday to kick off Sunshine Week, a national initiative to highlight access to public information.

Local governments must develop public records policies, include policies in employee manuals and post them in records areas, under Ohio law. All elected officials or a designee must receive three hours of training offered by either the auditor or attorney general once during their terms.

Most of the violations were for incomplete public records policies. For example, Richmond Heights did not have a formal policy for how to retain records and for how long. The Cuyahoga County Agricultural Society was unable to provide auditors with a copy of its public records policy.

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

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