FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Harry F. Russell,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 91-84

 

Danbury Superintendent of Schools,

 

Respondent September 25, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 10, 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. By letters of complaint filed with the Commission on April 9, 1991 and May 7, 1991, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that his request for records had been denied.

 

3. It is found that by letters dated March 22, 1991 and April 17, 1991, the complainant requested the names of students who vandalized school property shortly before their 1990 graduation, the names of the individuals who had made restitution to the school for the vandalism, and certain other information concerning the vandalism.

 

4. It is concluded that the requested documents are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.

 

5. It is found that the respondent provided certain information responsive to the complainant's requests, but declined to provide the names of students involved in the vandalism incident.

 

6. It is found that the students whose names were requested were graduating seniors at the time of the vandalism.

 

7. It is found that the school notified the Danbury police of the property destruction, pursuant to school discipline procedures, and that both the school and the Danbury police department conducted investigations of the vandalism from June 18 (the day after the vandalism) until July 8, 1990.

 

Docket #FIC 91-84 Page 2

 

8. It is found that the students graduated from Danbury High School on or about June 21, 1990.

 

9. It is found that the students responsible for the vandalism came forward to school officials on July 8, acknowledged responsibility for the incident, and agreed to make restitution to the school.

 

10. It is found that the school treated the students' actions and agreement to make restitution as a school discipline matter, and that the Danbury police department did not further pursue its investigation.

 

11. It is found that the complainant obtained the names of the students from Danbury Police Department incident reports, but seeks to confirm their identities from the school records.

 

12. The complainant maintains that the requested records should be disclosed because the records pertain to an incident that did not happen in the course of instruction, and because he seeks only the names of students over the age of eighteen years.

 

13. The complainant requests that the Commission take administrative notice of contested cases docket numbers FIC 77-108, Joseph Volak against Berlin, and FIC 77-109, Joseph Volak against New Britain.

 

14. The Commission takes administrative notice of its records and final decisions in the above-cited cases, as well as in contested case docket number FIC 76-176, Joseph Volack against Berlin and New Britain.

 

15. In the three above-cited Volak cases, the Commission ordered disclosure of certain information, including names of students, before the enactment of P.A. 77-609, now codified as 1-19(b)(11), G.S., which expressly precludes disclosure of the names and addresses of students.

 

16. It is concluded that 1-19(b)(11), G.S., and not the Volak cases, governs this matter.

 

17. It is found that the disciplinary action taken by Danbury High School and the records maintained of that action were conditioned on the school's understanding of the status of the vandals as students.

 

18. It is also found that the school in its discretion treated the vandals as students throughout its investigation and disciplinary proceedings, and that no cause exists for the Commission to question that discretion.

 

Docket #FIC 91-84 Page 3

 

19. It is found that the complainant specifically requested "the names of all adult students involved in the incident or incidents which took place during the evening of 17 June" in his March 22 request, and "the names of the students involved or the parents of those students who paid for the damage to school property" in his April 17 request. [Emphasis added.]

 

18. It is concluded that the status of the vandals as students was not merely incidental to the complainant's request.

 

19. It is also found that disclosure of the names of the students' parents would lead to the disclosure of the names of the students.

 

20. It is concluded that the requested record is permissibly exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(11), G.S.

 

 

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above captioned complaint:

 

1. The complaint is dismissed.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 25, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 91-84 Page 4

 

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:

Martha M. Watts, Esq.

Shipman & Goodwin

One American Row

Hartford, CT 06103-2819

 

Harry F. Russell

4 Glen Road

Danbury, CT 06811

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission