Tennessee Residents Who Want Public Records Access Training Can Get it in October


If you live in Tennessee and want to see government documents, but you don’t know how to navigate the state’s public records laws then you’re in luck.

Members of Tennessee’s Office of Open Records Counsel are scheduled to crisscross the state next month to offer free training to anyone who wants to know more about the state’s public records and open meetings laws.

This, according to a press release members of the Tennessee Comptrollers’ Office released Monday.

Members of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government are not formally involved with any of these training sessions.

TCOG Executive Director Deborah Fisher told The Tennessee Star, however, that she knows of high-placed government officials in Knoxville and Chattanooga who try to charge the public for documents that, legally, they must offer for free.

“You hear about fake news so much, and I think people just want the record. They want to know exactly what it is,” Fisher said.

“They want the source documents. They want to see the contract their city council voted on. They want to know the policy. They want the actual information when it pertains to them.”

OORC spokesman John Dunn said that, to his knowledge, this is the first time the office has offered this free training.

“We’ve offered numerous training sessions in the past to various groups, but those sessions were mostly upon request,” Dunn told The Star in an emailed statement.

“This is our first organized proactive effort.”

If this year proves successful then state officials hope to offer these trainings yearly, Dunn said.

OORC staff members are scheduled to host seven training events next month. Each session will last two hours, according to a press release.

Open Records Counsel Lee Pope and Assistant General Counsel Rachel Buckley will lead each class through a variety of topics, including public records laws and procedures, open meetings requirements, and exceptions to the Tennessee Public Records Act, the press release went on to say.

Four of those seven scheduled sessions — in Cookeville, Knoxville, Jackson, and Nashville — are already at capacity. State officials have established a waiting list, according to the press release.

But the following sessions are still available:

• 10 a.m. to noon, Oct. 9 at the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce

• 10 a.m. to noon, Oct. 11, at The Chattanoogan Hotel in Chattanooga.

• 10 a.m. to noon, Oct. 16, at 40 S. Main Street in Memphis.

Dunn said state officials are discussing whether to present the trainings online in future years.

If you are interested in attending any of these training sessions then RSVP by sending an email to [email protected]

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]




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