FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Stephen J. Sorrow,
against Docket #FIC 89-409
Suffield Superintendent of Schools,
Respondent July 9, 1990
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 12, 1990, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The records at issue were submitted in evidence for in camera inspection.
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 letter of complaint dated October 28, 1989, and filed with the Commission on November 1, 1989, the complainant alleged that on October 18, 1989, he requested four documents maintained by the respondent.
3. Specifically, the complainant sought access to the following four records:
(a). the resume of the respondent, Bernard J. Ellis;
(b). the employment application of the respondent;
(c). the resume of Ann Estes, Principal of McAlister Middle School; and
(d). the employment application of Mrs. Estes.
Docket #FIC 89-409 Page 2
4. On October 25, 1989, the complainant received the following documents in response to his request:
(a). a one page document that indicated the respondent's salary, the institutions of higher education he attended, the degree attained at each college or university, and the respondent's certification number;
(b). a one page document dated December 17, 1982, which listed the respondent's "educational and work experience";
(c). a one page document that listed Mrs. Estes' current position, salary, institutions of higher learning attended, the degree attained from each college or university, and hercertification number; and
(d). a memorandum from the Suffield Administrators Group, (SAG), objecting to the release of any information pertaining to SAG members.
5. The respondent provided the Commission with the following documents for in camera inspection:
(a). a copy of Mrs. Estes' employment application, (in camera documents #R1 through #R4);
(b). the addendum to Mrs. Estes resume, (in camera documents #R5 through #R6);
(c). letters of reference and recommendation for Mrs. Estes, (in camera documents #R9 through #R18);
(d). a letter to the respondent from Mrs. Estes concerning the principal vacancy, (in camera document #R19); and
(e). letters of reference and recommendation for Mrs. Estes, (in camera documents #R20 through #R22).
6. The respondent admits that the information furnished to the complainant was generated from documents which presently exist.
7. The respondent claims that the requested records are contained within personnel files and therefore exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(2), G. S.
Docket #FIC 89-409 Page 3
8. The respondent also contends that his employment application and resume do not presently exist except for the information already provided to the complainant.
9. It is found that the employment application and resume of both the respondent and Mrs. Estes would constitute personnel files within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G. S.
10. It is also found that the public has a legitimate interest in the disclosure of information relating to the qualifications of school superintendents and principals.
11. It is further found that the complainant is not seeking access to the social security number, home telephone number, family history, marital status, religious affiliation, or any personal data other than that directly related to job qualifications of both the respondent and Mrs. Estes.
12. It is also found that some of the information which was not provided to the complainant was furnished to the media and published in a newspaper article about Mrs. Estes.
13. Specifically, it is found that on January 27, 1990, following an interview with Mrs. Estes, the Southwick Suffield Advertiser News, (hereinafter "SSAN"), published an article about Mrs. Estes which contained much of the professional information about Mrs. Estes which the complainant is seeking and also personal information about her family which the complainant did not request.
14. It is found that the information requested does not constitute an invasion of privacy of either the respondent or Mrs. Estes.
15. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G. S., by failing to fully comply with the complainant's request.
Docket #FIC 89-409 Page 4
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 provide the complainant with a copy of the documents requested with the exception of the following:
(a). in camera document #R4, lines 15 through 18;
(b). in camera documents #R9 through #R18, inclusive, in their entirety;
(c). in camera documents #R20 through #R21, inclusive, in their entirety.
2. The Commission assumes that SAG is the collective bargaining representative for Mrs. Estes. However, the Commission notes that there was no evidence introduced with respect to this matter.
3. The Commission also points out that 1-20a(c), G. S., requires that either the employee who is the subject of a records request, or the employee's collective bargaining representative file, under penalty of false statement, a written objection to disclosure of the records requested. In addition, the objection "shall consist of a statement" as to why the requested information is not subject to disclosure by the public agency involved. The Commission notes that the blanket objection in the form of a memorandum from SAG to the respondent does not technically comply with the rquirements of 1-20a(c), G. S.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of July 9, 1990.
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 89-409 Page 5
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:
STEPHEN J. SORROW
532 Hill Street
Suffield, CT 06078
SUFFIELD SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
c/o Elizabeth A. Foley, Esquire
Sullivan, Lettick & Schoen
646 Prospect Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission