FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Charles Dixon and The Waterbury Republican,
against Docket #FIC 88-463
Watertown Board of Education, Watertown Superintendent of Schools and Stephen J.Adamski
Respondents July 11, 1990
The above captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 6, 1989 and on January 23, 1989. At these times the parties appeared and presented evidence and argument on the complaint.
Thereafter on July 14, 1989, the Commission issued its final decision. The decision was appealed by the respondent Adamski and was remanded to the Commission for in camera inspection of the records on November 9, 1990.
On March 9, 1990, the records were taken for in camera inspection.
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 received November 22, 1988, the complainants requested access to the portions of the personnel file of Stephen Adamski which were relevant to his suspension for 30 days without pay on October 11, 1988.
3. The respondent superintendent denied access to the records on October 24, 1988, because both the respondent Adamski and the teachers union claimed that release of the information in the Adamski personnel file would constitute an invasion of personal privacy.
4. At hearing in response to his request to be made a party, Stephen Adamski was named a party, and the Waterbury Education Association was named an intervenor.
Docket #FIC 88-463 Page two
5. The complainants stated at hearing that the names of students may be redacted from the records.
6. The respondents claim that the records pertaining to the disciplinary action of the respondent board are exempt from disclosure under 10-151c and 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
7. It is found that the respondent superintendent submitted 8 letters for in camera inspection.
8. It is found that the letters are public records within the meaning of 1-18(a)(d), G.S.
9. It is found further that the respondent Adamski is a certified professional employee below the rank of superintendent employed by a board of education in a position requiring a certificate issued by the State Board of Education, see 10-145a-70, Regs. Conn. State Agencies.
10. It is concluded, therefore, that the portions or all of the requested letters which specifically deal with the performance or evaluation of the respondent Adamski are exempt from disclosure under 10-151c, G.S.
11. It is found that the letters are personnel records within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
12. It is found that students and teachers, who are involuntarily drawn into matters of alleged misconduct of certain teachers, have substantial privacy rights where incident reports or letters document their involvement in some alleged misconduct.
13. It is found that the portions of the letters which identify teachers or students are exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(2), G.S., because disclosure would constitute an invasion of personal privacy for those students and teachers, and because there is no countervailing legitimate public interest in disclosure of their identity.
14. It is found that the respondent Adamski is a guidance counselor, a position requiring especially good judgment and responsible conduct.
15. It is found that, in his capacity as a guidance counselor, the respondent Adamski has very limited privacy rights with respect to the contents of the letters which show administrative decisions concerning his employment and the implementation of those decisions and which are not otherwise exempt from disclosure.
Docket #FIC 88-463 Page three
16. It is found under the circumstances of this case where there is substantial concern and legitimate public interest in regard to suspension of the respondent Adamski, that the public interest in disclosure clearly outweighs his limited privacy rights in the portion of the letters which show the administrative decisions and actions taken by the respondent superintendent.
17. It is concluded, therefore, the respondent failed to prove that the letters which show administrative decisions concerning the respondent Adamski and their implementation, i.e., the portions of the letters which state the action to be taken, the options available, the schedule of events, the rights of the respondent Adamski, and which document any action taken by him, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
18. It is concluded, therefore, that letters number 1 through 3 are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2) and 10-151c, G.S., based upon the references contained therein which would identify a student, teachers other than Adamski, and which concern the performance and evaluation of the respondent Adamski.
19. It is concluded that all of letter number 4 is subject to disclosure, except for paragraph 1 which is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2) and 10-151c, G.S., based upon statements which would identify a student, and references to the performance of the respondent Adamski
20. It is found that letter number 5 has 10 paragraphs.
21. It is concluded that paragraph number 1 of letter number 5 is exempt pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S., based upon references in it which would identify a student.
22. It is concluded that paragraphs number 2, 3 and 4 of letter number 5 are exempt pursuant to 10-151c, G.S., based upon references therein to the performance and evaluation of the respondent Adamski.
23. It is concluded that except for paragraphs 1 through 4, the remainder of letter number 5 is subject to disclosure.
24. It is concluded that letters number 6 and 7 are subject to disclosure.
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25. It is concluded that letter number 8 is exempt pursuant to 10-151c, G.S., because it discusses the performance and evaluation of the respondent Adamski; and it is further found that the letter is not within the scope of the complainant's request.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Within two weeks from the date of the final decision in this case, the respondent superintendent shall disclose the portions of the letters number 4 and 5 which are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to paragraphs 19, 20, 21, and 23, above.
2. Within two weeks from the date of the final decision, the respondent superintendent shall disclose letters number 6 and 7 pursuant to paragraph 24, above.
3. The Commission wishes to remind the respondent Adamski that he may agree to disclosure of all the requested records pursuant to 10-151c.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 11, 1990.
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 88-463 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:
CHARLES DIXON AND THE WATEBURY REPUBLICAN
c/o Karen Schmidt
389 Meadow Street
P.O. Box 2090
Waterbury, CT 06722
WATERTOWN BOARD OF EDUCATION, WATERTOWN SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS AND STEPHEN J. ADAMSKI
c/o Ralph E. Wilson, Esq.
Summa & Ryan, P.C.
19-21 Holmes Avenue
Waterbury, CT 06702
WATERTOWN BOARD EDUCATION AND STEPHEN J. ADAMSKI
c/o Ronald Cordilico, Esq.
Connecticut Education Association
31 School Street
East Hartford, CT 06108
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission