FREEDOM OF INFORMATION
COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
other powers and duties, subdivision 2 of § 30-179 of
the Code charges the Council to conduct training seminars
and educational programs for the members and staff of public
bodies and other interested persons on the requirements of
FOIA. The Council views its training duty as it's most important
mission and welcomes every opportunity to provide FOIA training
presentations. In fulfilling its statutory mission to conduct
educational programs about FOIA, the FOIA Council provides
several different types of training, all free of charge, as
There are currently three different types
of training programs presented by Council staff that are preapproved
for credit for attorneys and/or law-enforcement as described
below. Each of these courses must follow the stated agenda
and time limits as agreed with the accrediting organization.
While these courses offer credit specifically for attorneys
and law-enforcement personnel, any interested person is welcome
to attend. Additionally, please note that other organizations
including the Virginia Municipal Clerks Association and the
Virginia School Board Association have also given credit for
attending training by the FOIA Council, although such training
is not separately preapproved.
to Public Records - This course covers FOIA policy,
what constitutes a public record, who has Virginia FOIA rights,
the procedures for making and responding to requests for public
records, charges, and an overview of some of the most commonly
used exemptions from mandatory disclosure. This course is
preapproved for 1.5 hours of Continuing Legal Education credit
from the Virginia State Bar.
August 9, 2023 at 10 a.m.
October 4, 2023 at 10 a.m.
to Public Meetings - This course covers FOIA policy,
what constitutes a "public body" and a "meeting,"
procedural requirements for conducting open meetings, closed
meetings, and electronic meetings, and an overview of some
of the most commonly used closed meeting exemptions. This
course is preapproved for 1.5 hours of Continuing Legal Education
credit from the Virginia State Bar.
August 16, 2023 at 10 a.m.
October 18, 2023 at 10 a.m.
Law-Enforcement Records -
This course provides an overview of the procedures for making
and responding to public records requests and address records
and procedures specific to law-enforcement such as criminal
incident information, criminal investigative files, noncriminal
incident reports, 911 call records, dash and body-worn camera
videos, public safety exemptions, and other provisions of
law outside of FOIA that may also affect access to law-enforcement
records. This course is preapproved for 2.0 hours of Continuing
Legal Education credit from the Virginia State Bar as well
as 2.0 hours of in-service credit from the Department of Criminal
September 6, 2023 at 10 a.m.
October 25, 2023 at 10 a.m.
In addition to these courses that are preapproved
for credit by other agencies, staff provides live training
for local officials and FOIA officers to satisfy the statutory
training requirements of §§ 2.2-3704.2 and 2.2-3704.3,
as well as training by arrangement that may be tailored to
the needs of specific groups or agencies, as described below.
Please note that all of the training presentations by Council
staff satisfy the FOIA training requirements for FOIA officers,
local elected officials and others required to receive FOIA
training (see below), including the accredited courses described
above. Additionally, please note that the required annual
FOIA training may also be provided by legal counsel for the
public body (i.e. your local government or agency attorney)
as well as by the FOIA Council staff.
Elected Officials - This course is designed for local
elected officials (including constitutional officers) and
the executive directors and members of industrial development
authorities and economic development authorities who are required
to receive FOIA training pursuant to § 2.2-3704.2. The
course covers FOIA training requirements, FOIA policy, the
role of the FOIA Council, procedures related to public records
requests, the conduct of public meetings, statutory remedies
for FOIA violations, and additional resources for local officials.
This course may be presented live in person or online (webinar),
and there are also prerecorded versions of it as described
August 23, 2023 at 10 a.m.
September 13, 2023 at 10 a.m.
November 17, 2023 at 10 a.m.
December 6, 2023 at 10 a.m.
FOIA Officers -
There is a course for FOIA officers hosted on the Commonwealth
of Virginia Learning Center (COVLC)(https://covlc.virginia.gov/Default.aspx).
Please note that due to recent upgrades to the COVLC system,
there is no longer a portal for registration by non-state
employees. If you are a state employee or already have a COVLC
account, you may continue to take the FOIA training hosted
on COVLC. If you do not already have an account, you can contact
us about creating one for you, but as of January, 2023, we
were informed that there are problems with the manual account
creation process. For that reason, you may wish to use one
of the other FOIA training alternatives instead (note that
there is no specific content requirement for FOIA officers,
so we would generally recommend taking whichever course or
courses best fits your role within your public body).
by arrangement - Council staff also provides training
upon request to interested groups, such as the staff of state
and local agencies, members of local governing bodies, media
organizations, citizen organizations, and any other group
that wishes to learn more about FOIA. Organizations requesting
training are encouraged, but not required, to consolidate
training by including other interested organizations within
a single or neighboring jurisdiction(s) wherever possible.
This training is available year-round, and may be presented
in person or using virtual meeting or webinar software. Staff
can present one of the courses described above or a presentation
can be tailored to meet the needs of the particular group.
Tailored presentations can range from 30 minutes to several
hours, and can present a general overview of FOIA or focus
specifically on particular exemptions or portions of FOIA
frequently used by that group or organization.
are interested in scheduling a live FOIA training presentation,
please call the FOIA Council at (804) 698-1810 [Richmond area]
or 1-866-448-4100 [toll free]. We suggest that you contact
us as soon as you have potential dates in mind for training
so as to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Pre-recorded online training
As mentioned above, the Council provides
two different pre-recorded online training courses, one designed
for FOIA officers and the other designed for local officials,
as alternatives to live training in order to satisfy the statutory
training requirements (see below).
FOIA Officers - § 2.2-3704.2
The course for FOIA officers is hosted on
the Commonwealth of Virginia Learning Center (COVLC) (here).
After logging in to COVLC, choose "FOIA-Freedom of Information
Act" from the list of courses on the right-hand side
of the page title "Browse Categories." The course
consists of a tutorial that should take less than an hour,
followed by a 15 question quiz. You must answer 12 questions
correctly (80%) to pass the quiz. After completing the tutorial
and passing the quiz, you will have the option to print a
certificate showing that you completed the online training.
Please note that you do not need to send us copies of your
certificate, but you should keep it for your records to document
that you completed the required training.
FOIA officers are also required to provide
their names and contact information to the FOIA Council so
that we can maintain alist
of FOIA officers available to the public. Such
information must be submitted by July 1 of the year the FOIA
officer is initially trained, and then updated if and when
it changes. (Note: The requirement used to be to submit the
information each year by July 1, but as of July 1, 2020, it
has been amended so the information only needs to be submitted
once initially and updated if there are changes.)
There are two ways to submit your name and
1) Click here
to use the online version of the form. It requires a free
registration, but once done, it will automatically add your
information to the FOIA officers list. Please use this form
if this is the first time someone is registering as a FOIA
officer for the public body. (In order to prevent tampering,
if someone else is already registered as FOIA officer for
the public body, the online form will not work to add or remove
anyone. If the public body's FOIA officer changes, please
notify us by email or use the Word version of the form below.)
2) Click hereto download a Microsoft Word version of the same
form that you may send to us by email (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or print and send by regular mail, if you prefer. Please use
this form if someone else is already registered as FOIA officer
for the public body, so that IT staff can remove outdated
information from the list while updating with the new information.
Local elected officials - §
As of July 1, 2020, all local elected officials
and executive directors and members of each industrial development
authority and economic development authority are required
to receive FOIA training "within two months after assuming
the local elected office and thereafter at least once during
each consecutive period of two calendar years commencing with
the date on which he last completed a training session."
To facilitate this training, we have developed a FOIA training
course specifically for local elected officials that should
take less than an hour to complete. Please note that there
is no requirement for a training certificate, but the law
requires that the clerk of a governing body or school board
keep records of such training for five years, so please be
sure to let your clerk know when you have taken a training
course. Note also that there is no requirement to send records
of this training to the FOIA Council, and unlike FOIA officers,
we do not maintain a list of elected officials who have completed
Due to technical issues experienced by some
users, there are different ways to take the local elected
officials online training. Please note that only one of which
generates a certificate (but again, note that a certificate
is not required):
Click-through version -
This version requires the user to click through each page
of the training and allows the user to generate a certificate
at the end of the course, but unfortunately appears to have
buffering issues that prevent some users from completing the
MP4 video versions - These
versions are an MP4 video with the same course content as
the click-through version. Users may either play the video
directly from our site, or may download it as a .zip file
and play it from their own computers. Note that these versions
do not generate a certificate but they do still satisfy the
requirement to take FOIA training: HERE
Additionally, for attorneys who wish to
provide training for their clients, please note that a PowerPoint
version is available here
as an resource to use in conjunction with live training (please
note that the PowerPoint version does not satisfy the training
requirement by itself, it is only meant to be used in conjunction
with live training).