FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Henry E. Buermeyer,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 87-287

 

Groton Board of Education, Director of Programs for the Groton Board of Education, Principal of West Side Junior High School and Assistant Principal of West Side Junior High School,

 

Respondents January 27, 1988

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 6, 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 August 28, 1987 the complainant made a request of the respondent principal of West Side Junior High School ("respondent principal") for a copy of the evaluation prepared by him on behalf of Dr. John Kelley in his effort to become employed by the Department of Defense Dependents Schools ("DODDS").

 

3. Specifically, the complainant is seeking access to a copy of the professional evaluation form prepared on the DODDS form DS 5011 by the respondent principal on behalf of Dr. Kelley.

 

4. By letter dated September 2, 1987 the respondent principal denied the complainant's request stating that "such documents, if they exist, are confidential."

 

5. By letter dated September 2, 1987 the complainant made a request of Dr. Joan Stipetic, Superintendent of Groton Public Schools, for a copy of the professional evaluation described at paragraphs 2 and 3, above.

 

Docket #FIC 87-287 Page 2

 

6. By letter dated September 10, 1987, Dr. Stipetic responded to the complainant's request by stating that she had no record of the performance evaluation in question.

 

7. By letter dated September 4, 1987 the complainant made a request of the respondent assistant principal of West Side Junior High School ("respondent assistant principal") for a copy of the evaluation described at paragraphs 2 and 3, above, that he prepared on behalf of Dr. Kelley.

 

8. By letter dated September 8, 1987, the respondent assistant principal denied the complainant's request stating that "the documents that you request are confidential."

 

9. By letter dated September 4, 1987 the complainant made a request of the respondent director of programs for the Groton Board of Education ("respondent director") for a copy of the evaluation described at paragraphs 2 and 3, above, that he prepared on behalf of Dr. Kelley.

 

10. By letter dated September 9, 1987 the respondent director denied the complainant's request stating that "it is my understanding that the document you have requested is confidential."

 

11. By letter of complaint received and filed with the Commission on October 2, 1987 the complainant appealed the respondents' denial of the requested records.

 

12. At the hearing, Attorney Richard L. Hershatter, representing the Association of Groton Administrators, requested permission to be made a party in these proceedings. Intervenor status was granted pursuant to 1-21j-28 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies.

 

13. At the hearing, Attorney Ronald Cordilico, representing Dr. John J. Kelley, requested permission to be made a party in these proceedings. Party status was granted pursuant to 1-21j-28 of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies.

14. Also at the hearing, Paulann H. Sheets, a parent and also a member of the respondent Groton Board of Education requested permission to be made a party in these proceedings. Such request was denied.

 

Docket #FIC 87-287 Page 3

 

15. At the hearing, the respondents requested that the Commission take administrative notice of its final decisions in FIC #87-132 and FIC #87-130.

 

16. The respondent assistant prinicpal testified that he filled out DODDS form DS 5011 on behalf of Dr. Kelley, and that he did so in his capacity as assistant principal. He further testified, however, that he mailed the recommendation directly to Dr. Kelley and did not retain a copy for his files.

 

17. The respondent principal also testified that he filled out DODDS form DS 5011 on behalf of Dr. Kelley, and that he did so in his capacity as principal. He further testified that he mailed the recommendation directly to Dr. Kelley and did not retain a copy for his files.

 

18. It is found that due to the failure of the respondent principal, the respondent assistant principal and the respondent director to retain a copy of the recommendation they each prepared on behalf of Dr. Kelley, the documents in question no longer exist.

 

19. It is therefore concluded that the respondents' failure to provide the complainant with a copy of the documents in question did not violate 1-15 or 1-19(a), G.S.

 

20. The Commission notes, however, that this hearing could have been avoided had the respondent principal, the respondent assistant principal and the respondent director informed the complainant that they did not retain a copy of the recommendation in question. It is understandable, under the circumstances, how the complainant could draw reasonable inferences that he had been wrongfully denied access to the requested information.

 

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

 

1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 27, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission