FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Ernest C. Corriveau, Sr.,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 88‑314

 

Wallingford Board of Education and Wallingford Superintendent of Schools,

 

Respondents November 30, 1988

 

The above‑captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 22, 1988, 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 of complaint filed with the Commission on August 2, 1988 the complainant alleged that on August 1, 1988 he had been denied access to public records by the respondents.

 

3. It is found that on July 28, 1988 Robert Parisi, a Wallingford town councilman, and the complainant appeared at the office of Nelson Kari, the respondent board's business manager, and asked to see all of the respondent board's records. Mr. Kari asked both Mr. Parisi and the complainant to make appointments to review the records. Mr. Parisi made an appointment for August 1, 1988 at 7:30 a.m., but the complainant made none.

 

4. It is found that Mr. Parisi invited the complainant to accompany him on his August 1, 1988 appointment with Mr. Kari, for the purpose of reviewing records.

 

5. At 7:30 a.m. on August 1, 1988 the complainant and Mr. Parisi appeared at Mr. Kari's office and requested access to records. Mr. Kari informed the complainant that because he did not have an appointment, he could not, at that time, review records. Both Mr. Parisi and the complainant left the office.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑314 Page Two

 

6. At approximately 11:30 a.m. on August 1, 1988 the mayor of the Town of Wallingford telephoned the respondent superintendent and asked him to open his files to the complainant and Mr. Parisi.

 

7. The respondent superintendent, who believed that the complainant and Mr. Parisi were in the same room with the mayor, informed the mayor that the records would be accessible to both the complainant and Mr. Parisi after 1:00 p.m. that day.

 

8. The complainant claims that he was unaware of the mayor's conversation with the respondent superintendent and, consequently, did not make another attempt to review records.

 

9. The respondents claim that their demand that the complainant make an appointment was a reasonable response to a request to review such a large volume of documents.

 

10. It is found, however, that such a request placed an impermissible precondition upon access to records, in violation of 1‑19(a), G.S.

 

11. At hearing, the respondents again offered the complainant the opportunity to inspect records in their files. The respondents also offered to arrange, at a mutually‑ convenient time and date, to gather specifically‑requested documents and make them available to the complainant for his review. The complainant declined the second offer.

 

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

 

1. The respondents forthwith shall act in strict compliance with 1‑19(a), G.S. regarding prompt access to inspect public records.

 

2. The Commission notes that the respondents' offer to compile a large volume of records and make them available to the complainant at a mutually‑convenient date and time would appear to be of more potential benefit to the complainant than to the respondents, and the Commission urges the complainant to consider such potential benefit before flatly rejecting the offer.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of November 30, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission