In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Kenneth Lerman,




against Docket #FIC 87-241


Gerald Tirozzi, Commissioner, State Department of Education and Dinoo Dastur, Chief, State Department of Education, Bureau of Certification and Accreditation,


Respondents December 9, 1987


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 21, 1987, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.


After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found:


1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. By letter dated July 29, 1987 the complainant made a request of the respondent commissioner for the following:


a. A copy of the teaching license issued to Nicole Morris;


b. A copy of any temporary emergency permits issued to Nicole Morris;


c. When the temporary permit was issued and its expiration date;


d. A copy of any application(s) submitted by Nicole Morris to the Teacher Certification Unit in connection with her request for a teaching license;


Docket #FIC 87-241 Page 2


e. A copy of any substantiating materials submitted to the Teacher Certification Unit by Nicole Morris; and


f. A copy of any other materials in the respondents' files concerning Nicole Morris.


3. By letter dated August 5, 1987, the respondent chief responded to the complainant's request by stating that the subject of his inquiry, Nicole Morris, holds a Connecticut standard teaching certificate for teaching French and Spanish, and that this certificate was issued in January 1986.


4. From denial of access to all of the requested information, the complainant appealed to the Commission by complaint filed on August 25, 1987.


5. The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the respondents.


6. With respect to paragraph 2a, above, it is found that the computer that prints out the teaching license certificate is not programmed to print out a "copy" of that certificate. If the computer was commanded to print out a certificate for an individual already licensed, a new certificate and identification number would be issued.


7. It is found that the documents identified at paragraphs 2b, 2c, 2e and 2f, above, do not exist.


8. It is further found that the complainant was provided with a copy of the record set forth in paragraph 2d, above, on the date of the hearing.


9. It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by not promptly providing the complainant with a copy of the application.


10. The Commission notes that this hearing could have been avoided had the respondents informed the complainant that the other documents in question do not exist. It is understandable, under the circumstances, how the complainant could draw reasonable inferences that there was a violation of the Freedom of Information Act on the part of the respondents.


Docket #FIC 87-241 Page 3


The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:


1. Henceforth the respondents shall act in strict compliance with the requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., regarding the disclosure of public records.


2. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondents as requested by the complainant.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of December 9, 1987.



Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission