By Janice Phelan, September 9, 2021
The University of Central Missouri will offer a new course focusing on the Freedom of Information Act and how to respond to FOIA requests. The three-hour course, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) course, will be offered online from Oct. 11 through Dec. 10.
The course covers an overview of FOIA, procedural requirements in processing a request and a general understanding of all exemptions within the statute. Many federal government agencies and contractors with the federal government have to respond to these requests. Upon completion of the course, students will learn the introductory job skills necessary for these positions. Students will also work with the frequently used Exemptions 6 and 7, time limits for responding to requests and redacting portions of documents covered by the exemptions.
The course was developed by UCM, working in collaboration with Michele Lanfranca, project manager/team lead for Cherokee Nation Support, Services and Solutions.
Every Federal, state and municipality may need to respond to FOIA requests, Lanfranca added.
“There is a large demand for FOIA work at each of these levels, but many are not aware of the job opportunities in this field,” she said. “I saw a need to find individuals with some base knowledge of FOIA to fill available positions and reached out to UCM to develop some coursework to introduce students to FOIA work as a career opportunity.”
A UCM graduate, Warrensburg native and attorney, Lanfranca learned about FOIA while working on a contract supporting the Solicitor’s Office for the U.S. Department of the Interior, primarily conducting discovery for Native American litigation cases.
“The opportunity to serve on this project with the Department of Homeland Security came available and I decided to transition to working exclusively on FOIA cases,” said Lanfranca, who currently works with a 25-member team.
The organization’s current contract supports the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services arm of the Department of Homeland Security.
“We process case files for immigrants in various states of their immigration journey and redact sensitive and/or protected information, apply appropriate redactions before sharing the file with the person who requested it,” she said. “The files often contain information vital to the immigrant in their pursuit of legal status in our country. It’s very fulfilling knowing that we are somehow helping those who are striving to be a part of the American dream.”
The 4000-level course is taught by Benecia Carmack and offered by UCM’s School of Criminal Justice and Criminology. Carmack is a criminal justice and criminology associate professor who also serves as the university's faculty sponsor and advisor of the Pre-Law Student Association. In addition, Carmack has worked with the Central Missouri Policy Academy on suppression hearings and evidence. Her classes cover topics such as criminal law and procedure, white collar crime, innocence case review, evidence and courtroom procedure, civil remedies, environmental crime and death penalty. Prior to joining UCM, Camack worked for a brief time in private practice before serving as a municipal judge in Clinton, Mo., for more than 16 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications studies as well as degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School and a master’s degree in business administration from UCM.
Cherokee Nation 3S is part of Cherokee Federal, a team of tribally owned companies that serve federal agencies globally. Cherokee Federal is owned by Cherokee Nation Businesses — the economic engine of Cherokee Nation, the largest Native American tribe in the U.S. One-hundred percent of the company’s profits support future business investments and the well-being of the tribe’s citizens through health care, education and job creation, ensuring better lives for Cherokees today and tomorrow.
The University of Central Missouri operates campus locations in Warrensburg, Online and Lee’s Summit with UCM’s Workforce and Professional Education programs housed at the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit.