FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Lance Johnson, Lynn Bonner & The Day,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 88-461

 

Chairman, East Lyme Board of Education,

 

Respondent November 8, 1989

 

The above-captioned matter was scheduled for hearing as a contested case on January 5, 1989 at which time the parties appeared and presented evidence and argument on the complaint.

 

At the meeting of the Commission, on September 27, 1989, the Commission heard argument and tabled the above-captioned matter. On October 5, 1989 the hearing officer withdrew his report and ordered that the requested record be submitted for in camera inspection. On October 17, 1989 the respondent submitted the requested record for in camera inspection.

 

At the meeting of the Commission on November 8, 1989, Robert Minor, East Lyme Superintendent of Schools, was permitted to intervene as a party respondent.

 

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached.

 

1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By complaint filed November 21, 1988, the complainants alleged that the respondent denied them access to a copy of the evaluation of the superintendent of schools on October 26, 1988.

 

3. It is found that on October 26, 1989, the complainants requested a copy of the evaluation of the superintendent of schools.

 

4. It is found that the complainants were not provided with the evaluation.

 

5. The respondent claims that the evaluation was not complete at the time of the request and therefore it was not required to be disclosed pursuant to 1-19(b)(1), G.S.

 

6. It is found that the contract of the superintendent provided for a term of employment from August 19, 1985, to August 18, 1988.

 

Docket #FIC 88-461 Page Two

 

7. It is found that, on June 27, 1988, the board of education held an executive session discussion concerning the terms and conditions of employment for the superintendent of schools.

 

8. It is found that, on August 1, 1988, the superintendent sent suggested procedures for his evaluation to the respondent.

 

9. It is found that on or about September 9, 1988, the respondent compiled notes in typewritten form, summarizing the oral evaluation of the superintendent by the board.

 

10. It is found that this typed summary of the board's oral evaluation is the record requested by the complainant.

 

11. It is found that the requested record contains nothing which pertains to the private life of the superintendent; rather it is an evaluation of specific areas of his performance as superintendent of schools using language similar to that which is employed in evaluating academic performance, and explaining such terms with sentences summarizing board member's opinions.

 

12. It is found that the notes compiled by the superintendent were not presented in a format which was agreed upon by the superintendent and the board.

 

13. It is found that, on October 2, 1988, the East Lyme Board of Education voted a 10% increase for the superintendent's salary but did not renew his contract.

 

14. It is found that, on October 3, 1988, pursuant to a provision set forth at part 7 of the superintendent's contract which governs a deficient evaluation, the board appointed a committee which met in executive session with the superintendent to assist him to improve his performance.

 

15. It is found that, after October 3, 1988, the superintendent continued to negotiate with the board of education concerning a mutually agreeable format for his evaluation.

16. It is found that, on December 19, 1988, the board of education held an executive session solely to determine a mutually agreeable format for the superintendent's evaluation.

 

17. It is found that, on December 20, 1988, the superintendent mailed forms to members of the board of education for them to use to evaluate his performance.

 

Docket #FIC 88-461 Page Three

 

18. It is found that the respondent failed to prove that the evaluation of the superintendent which was compiled on or about September 9, 1988, was exempt from disclosure within the meaning of 1-19(b)(1), G.S.

 

19. The respondent claims that the evaluation is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(c)(1), G.S.

 

20. It is found that the requested record is a memorandum documenting part of the process used by the board of education to decide what to do about the contract of the superintendent.

 

21. It is concluded that the requested record is not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(c)(1), G.S.

 

22. It is found that the requested record is a personnel file within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

23. The Commission notes that superintendents of public schools serve an important function in our society. They are administrators responsible for a system which provides for the education of children and young adults.

24. The Commission notes that public school education in Connecticut commands a significant portion of public funds and is the subject of great and legitimate public interest.

 

25. The Commission further notes that by virtue of the foregoing, there continues to be a reasonable and legitimate public interest in the records which constitute and document the evaluation of public school superintendents.

 

26. With respect to the requested record, the Commission therefore finds that the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs the competing personal privacy interests of the superintendent in avoiding disclosure.

 

27. It is concluded that the requested record is not exempt pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

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

 

1. The respondent shall forthwith disclose to the complainants the evaluation of the superintendent which he compiled on or about September 9, 1988, which is described above at paragraphs 2, 9, 11, and 12.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 8, 1989.

 

 

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 88-461 Page Four

 

PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.

 

THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:

LANCE JOHNSON, LYNN BONNER AND THE DAY

47 Eugene O'Neill Drive

New London, CT 06320

 

CHAIRMAN, EAST LYME BOARD OF EDUCATION

c/o Donald W. Strickland, Esquire

Siegel, O'Conner, Schiff, Zangari & Kainen, P.C.

370 Asylum Street

Hartford, CT 06103

 

INTERVENOR:

 

Robert Minor

East Lyme Superintendent of Schools

P.O. Box 176

East Lyme, CT 06333

 

 

Tina C. Frappier

Acting Clerk of the Commission