FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by                        FINAL DECISION

 

Melvin Alberts,

 

                        Complainant,

 

            against              Docket #FIC 90-131

 

State of Connecticut, Department of Education,

 

                        Respondent                  September 26, 1990

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 25, 1990, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  This case was consolidated for hearing with Docket ##'s FIC 90-55, FIC 90-133, FIC 90-140 and FIC 90-151.

 

            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.  It is found that on March 14, 1990, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with access to the application forms of James Peters, Associate Commissioner of the respondent's Department of Vocational Rehabilition.

 

            3.  It is found that on March 26, 1990, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with access to the application forms of Maurice Ross, Commissioner of the respondent's Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.

 

            4.  It is found that the respondent denied both these requests on March 26, 1990.

 

            5.  It is found that on February 27, 1990, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with access to the employment file of Paul Goodney.

 

            6.  It is found that on March 29, 1990, the respondent denied this request.

 

            7.  It is found that on March 12, 1990, the complainant asked the respondent's employee a series of oral questions.

 

            8.  The complainant filed three letters of complaint with the Commisssion on April 10, 1990, alleging that the respondent denied him access to records he requested.

 

Docket #FIC 90-131                           Page Two

 

            9.  It is found that the respondent has provided the complainant with a copy of the application forms for Maurice Ross.

 

            10.  It is further found that nothing in the Freedom of Information Act requires a public employee to answer someone's oral questions.

 

            11.  The respondent claims that it has not provided the complainant with a copy of the application forms for James Peters and the employment file for Paul Goodney because they filed written objections to disclosure of the records, as allowed by 1-20a(b), G.S.

 

            12.  At the hearing on this matter, the complainant specified that for Paul Goodney he seeks access to those records that describe his qualifications for his job, such as his college degrees, previous job experience, length of employment, any police records, etc., including, but not necessarily limited to, his resume and applications.

 

            13.  At the hearing the complainant specified that he does not seek any information about James Peters's or Paul Goodney's families, medical histories, religious affiliations, social security numbers or home addresses.

 

            14.  It is found that all the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

            15.  It is found that the employees in question voluntarily undertook to perform public services and be paid by the state's taxpayers.

 

            16.  It is found that there is substantial public interest in the qualifications of its employees.

 

            17.  It is further found that the employees in question here are responsible for the education and counseling of physically-challenged individuals and others needing vocational rehabilitation services.

 

            18.  It is found that there is public interest in the qualifications and abilities of employees who are responsible for the education and welfare of physically-challenged individuals.

 

            19.  It is found that these employees have no legally-protected privacy interest in the information concerning their qualifications for their public employment.

 

            20.  It is concluded, therefore, that the requested records are not exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(2), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 90-131                           Page Three

 

            21.  It is also concluded that the respondent's belief that disclosure of the requested records would legally constitute an invasion of privacy was not reasonable and that 1-20a(b), G.S., did not require the respondent to contact the employees who are the subjects of these records.

 

            22.  It is further concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with prompt access to the application forms of James Peters and the employment file of Paul Goodney.

 

            The following order of the Commission is hereby recommended based on the complete record in the above-captioned matter:

 

            1.  The respondent forthwith shall provide the complainant with copies of James Peters's application forms and Paul Goodney's employment file, the latter as described in paragraph 12 of the findings above.

 

            2.  In complying with paragraph 1 of this order, the respondent may redact or otherwise mask any information described in paragraph 13 of the findings above.

 

            3.  The respondent henceforth shall act in strict compliance with the records disclosure requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

            4.  The respondent henceforth shall not withhold records from the public by relying unreasonably upon 1-20a(b), G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 26, 1990.

 

                                                          

                                    Tina C. Frappier

                                    Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 90-131                           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:

MELVIN ALBERTS

239 Lowrey Place

Newington, CT 06111

 

STATE OF CONNECTICUT, DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

c/o Carroll T. Willis, Jr., Esq.

Assistant Attorney General

MacKenzie Hall

110 Sherman Street

Hartford, CT 06105

 

INTERVENORS

 

JAMES BOZZI; RAYMOND LAMONT; JOHN RAVALDI; RICHARD MITCHELL; PAUL GOODNEY; RICHARD CARLSON

c/o Robert J. Krzys, Esq.

Krzys & Paun

97 Oak Street

Hartford, CT 06106

 

                                                         

                                    Tina C. Frappier

                                    Acting Clerk of the Commission