FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Ann Baldelli, Lynn Bonner and The Day
against Docket #FIC 89-291
Chairman, East Lyme Board of Education and East Lyme Board of Education
Respondents March 14, 1990
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 21, 1989, at which time the complainants 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 and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter dated July 2, 1989 and filed with Commission on July 17, 1989, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent denied them access to a copy of a written evaluation of performance of school superintendent Dr. Robert O. Minor. The complainants also alleged that the respondents, at their June 12, 1989 board meeting, went into an executive session for a purpose not permitted by 1-18a(e), G.S.
3. The respondents denied the complainants' request for access to the requested record based on their belief that the school superintendent's written evaluation is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 10-151c, G.S.
4. The respondents also denied the complainants' request based on their belief that the written evaluation is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S., as it would constitute an invasion of the school superintendent's personal privacy.
5. The respondents further claim that the executive session was held to discuss the performance of the school superintendent for a purpose permitted by 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.
Docket #FIC 89-291 Page Two
6. It is found that the written evaluation of performance in question is a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
7. It is found that, on December 12, 1989, the school superintendent notified the respondent in writing of his objection to the disclosure of the evaluation, pursuant to 1-20a(b), G.S., four months after the complainants made their original request of the respondents for his written evaluation.
8. It is found, therefore, that the school superintendent did not make his written objection known within four business days, as required by 1-20a(c), G.S.
9. It is thusly concluded that the requested record is not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-20a(b), G.S., since the school superintendent did not fulfill the stautute's requirement of making his written objection known in a timely manner.
10. It is found that the record, a written evaluation of a school superintendent, is not a record which is an evaluation of a teacher's performance within the meaning of 10-151c, G.S.
11. Thus it is concluded that the written evaluation of Dr. Minor's performance is not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 10-151c, G.S.
12. It is found that a public employee, who voluntarily chooses to serve the public and be paid with public funds, has limited his or her personal privacy rights in matters pertaining to his or her public employment.
13. It is found that there is a legitimate public interest in the disclosure of records about its employee in matters pertaining to his employment.
14. It is found that there is a heightened public interest in the disclosure of this record evaluating its employee since he was entrusted with the supervision of the education and welfare of minor children.
15. It is also found that there is a heightened public interest in the disclosure of this record as it concerns a school superintendent, the chief administrator of an entire school system.
16. It is concluded that the heightened public interest in disclosure of the record clearly outweighs any limited privacy rights of the subject.
17. Thus it is concluded that the requested records are not exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
Docket #FIC 89-291 Page Three
18. At hearing, the respondents agreed to allow the complainants access to a copy of the subject's written evaluation report.
19. It is found, however, that the respondents, by initially refusing the complainants access to the written evaluation for four months, have unduely delayed the disclosure of a public record.
20. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainants with prompt access to the requested public record.
21. It is found that, at the respondents' regular meeting of June 12, 1989, the respondents convened in executive session.
22. It is found that the agenda for the June 12, 1989 executive session listed "superintendent's evaluation" among the topics which were to be discussed.
23. It is found, however, that one of the subjects of the June 12, 1989 executive session was the manner in which the respondents would evaluate the performance of the school superintendent or the "evaluation format."
24. It is found that the agenda for the June 12, 1989 executive session failed to correctly describe the topics which were to be discussed.
25. It is also found that the executive session was not held for a proper purpose within the meaning of 1-18a(e), G.S.
26. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents violated 1-21(a), G.S., by holding an executive session for a purpose not permitted in 1-18a(e), G.S.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. The respondents shall henceforth act in strict compliance with 1-15, 1-19(a), 1-18a(e) and 1-21(a), G.S.
2. The respondents shall henceforth limit its executive sessions to purposes permitted by 1-18a(e), G.S.
Docket #FIC 89-291 Page Four
3. The respondent board shall schedule a workshop for its members and staff, to be conducted by one of the Commission's staff attorneys, on the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act. The respondent board shall make the necessary arrangements with the Commission's staff so that the workshop shall be held no later than 60 days from the notice of the final decision in this case.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 14, 1990.
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 89-291 Page Five
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:
ANN BALDELLI, LYNN BONNER, THE DAY
47 Eugene O'Neill Drive
New London, CT 06320
CHAIRMAN, EAST LYME BOARD OF EDUCATION AND EAST LYME BOARD OF EDUCATION
c/o Donald W. Strickland, Esq.
Siegel, O'Connor, Schiff, Zangari & Kainen, P.C.
370 Asylum Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission