FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
James R. Parker,
against Docket #FIC 90-386
Windsor Superintendent of Schools,
Respondent May 22, 1991
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 19, 1991, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. In a letter dated September 18, 1990, the complainant requested from the respondent a copy of the results of air quality testing done at Oliver Ellsworth School, including conclusions and raw data.
3. In a letter dated September 20, 1990, the respondent acknowledged the complainant's request and provided the complainant with a copy of an engineering report, entitled "Air Quality Assessment - Ellsworth Elementary School."
4. In a letter dated October 3, 1990, the complainant restated his request to the respondent, indicating that the respondent had not complied with his previous request, since the information supplied by the the respondent consisted of conclusions only, and did not include raw data and actual test results.
5. Further, in the complainant's October 3, 1990 request, the complainant requested copies of all correspondence and
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information on file, including any correspondence from the public regarding air testing at Ellsworth School.
6. By letter of complaint dated October 11, 1990 and filed on October 15, 1990, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent failed to adequately comply with his request.
7. In a letter to the complainant dated October 19, 1990, the respondent notified the complainant of copying charges for the requested information and supplied the complainant with certain documents in his possession.
8. Specifically, the respondent supplied the complainant with the following four documents: a) a report from Applied Thermodynamics Associates, Inc., dated September 18, 1990; b) a letter from Applied Thermodynamics Associates, Inc., dated August 7, 1990; c) minutes of the Windsor Board of Education regular meeting dated September 18, 1990; and d) agenda item #90-212-C.
9. On November 7, 1990, the complainant forwarded the fee for copying charges and informed the respondent that since no supporting documentation was provided, he still felt the respondent had not complied with his request for records.
10. In a letter to the Commission dated November 19, 1990, the respondent stated that his office neither had raw data in its possession, nor had it received correspondence from other members of the public.
11. At the hearing, the respondent submitted two memoranda as exhibits, the first dated September 18, 1990 and the second dated October 29, 1990, both of which are from a Mr. Al Relyea, an industrial hygenist, and addressed to Al Brockman, Director of Business Services, Windsor Public Schools, concerning the Indoor Air Quality Assessment at Ellsworth School.
12. It is concluded that the memoranda described in paragraph 11, above, are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
13. It is found that neither of these memoranda were supplied to the complainant prior to the hearing, although they fell within the ambit of the complainant's October 3, 1990 request.
14. At the hearing, the respondent argued that the memoranda described in paragraph 11, above, were drafts and
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offered confidentiality as the reason for witholding them from the complainant.
15. It is concluded that the memoranda do not meet the statutory requirements for preliminary drafts and notes within the meaning of 1-19(b)(1) and 1-19(c), G.S., and that the respondent lacked statutory authority to offer confidentiality alone as a reason for witholding the subject public records.
16. It is also found that there is an invoice related to the services performed by Applied Thermodynamics, Inc., which was in the respondent's files at the time of the complainant's request, but was not provided to the complainant.
17. Further, it is found that although the respondent contends that his office does not have copies of raw data in its possession, a copy of the raw data obtained by the complainant from other sources, indicates that a copy was sent to Mr. Brockman.
18. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with copies of the records described in paragraphs 11 and 16, which his office had in its possession at the time 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. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy of the invoice described in paragraph 16 of the findings, above.
2. The respondent shall forthwith diligently search the files of the Windsor school system and provide copies of any additional records related to the complainant's requests as described in paragraph 5 of the findings, above.
3. After conducting the search more fully described in paragraph 2 of this order above, the respondent shall submit an affidavit to the complainant, setting forth the nature of the search and attesting to the fact that the Windsor school system does not, from the date of the complainant's request to the present, have any additional records in its possession related to said request, other than those provided to the complainant.
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4. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the disclosure requirements of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
5. The Commission reminds the respondent that, as a public agency he is responsible under the Freedom of Information Act to see that a diligent search is conducted in response to a request for public records, and that any records received by his office are to be viewed as public records, except as explicitly provided by state statute or federal law.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 22, 1991.
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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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:
JAMES R. PARKER
21 Cobblestone Way
Windsor, CT 06095
WINDSOR SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS
c/o Martha Watts, Esq.
Shipman & Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission