FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Richard H. Kosinski,

 

Complainant

 

against Docket #FIC 90-505

 

Superintendent of Schools, Consolidated School District of New Britain,

 

Respondent November 13, 1991

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 11, and May 10, 1991, at which times the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Docket #FIC 90-506, Richard H. Kosinski v. State of Connecticut, Office of the Attorney General, was consolidated for hearing with the above-captioned matter.

 

At the April 11, 1991 hearing on the above-captioned matter the respondent made a request to submit the records at issue to the Commission for in camera review. The request for an in camera submission was granted by the hearing officer. The records at issue were submitted for in camera inspection on May 21, 1991. The following documents, relating to the Walter J. Kenney Scholarship applications of Christopher Coyle and David Guidice were submitted for in camera review:

 

Document Name In Camera Document #

 

Coyle Cover Letter 90-505-1

Coyle Kenney Application Form--Page 4 90-505-2

Coyle Kenney Application Form--Page 5 90-505-3

Coyle Letter of Reference from M.A. Sagraves 90-505-4

Coyle Letter of Reference from S. Wolfson 90-505-5

Coyle Letter of Reference from W. Mill 90-505-6

Coyle Letter of Reference from R. Unwin 90-505-7

Coyle Letter of Reference from R. Badosgian 90-505-8

Photocopy of the Sealed Envelope Purported

to Contain Coyle's College Transcript 90-505-9

 

Docket #FIC 90-505 Page 2

 

Document Name In Camera Document #

 

Guidice Kenney Application Form-Page 4 90-505-10

Guidice Kenney Application Form-Page 5 90-505-11

Guidice Financial Aid Form-Page 1 90-505-12

Guidice Financial Aid Form-Page 2 90-505-13

Guidice Financial Aid Form-Page 3 90-505-14

Guidice Financial Aid Form-Page 4 90-505-15

Guidice's Cover Letter 90-505-16

Guidice's High School Transcript-Page 1 90-505-17

Guidice's High School transcript-Page 2 90-505-18

Guidice Letter of Reference from Sr. Julie 90-505-19

Guidice Letter of Reference from D. McCreesh-Page 1 90-505-20

Guidice Letter of Reference from D. McCreesh-Page 2 90-505-21

Guidice Letter of Reference from Rev. Guisani 90-505-22

Guidice Letter of Reference from Rev. Tiano 90-505-23

Guidice Letter of Reference from S. Armor 90-505-24

Guidice Letter of Reference from R. Seethaler 90-505-25

Guidice (2nd) Letter of Reference from Sr. Julie 90-505-26

 

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 dated December 10, 1990, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with copies of all documents "in [its] possession or control related to the Walter J. Kenney Scholarship (hereinafter "scholarship") Fund."

 

3. It is found that the scholarship fund was intended to be administered as a trust for the benefit of students residing in the city of New Britain.

 

4. By the terms of the trust instrument the recipient of the scholarship is to be selected by the joint agreement of the respondent and the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church of New Britain, or his successor.

 

5. By reply letter dated December 20, 1990, the respondent provided the complainant with approximately sixty pages of documents contained in the scholarship file that did not pertain to the application forms or supporting documents submitted by scholarship applicants.

 

Docket #FIC 90-505 Page 3

 

6. It is found that the information disclosed to the complainant related to: the trust instrument creating the scholarship fund; scholarship committee meetings; correspondence, memorandums, drafts, guidelines and proposals regarding reformation and clarification of the trust, the scholarship, the scholarship selection process and scholarship applicants.

 

7. By letter dated December 28, 1990, and filed with the Commission on December 31, 1990, the complainant alleged a failure of the respondents to fully comply with his document request.

 

8. The respondent argues that the data withheld from disclosure relates solely to information about students who sought scholarship monies from a private trust fund.

 

9. Specifically, the respondent maintains that the documents withheld from disclosure contain private facts in the form of personally descriptive data, personal and familial financial data, and letters of recommendation that were required of each scholarship applicant.

 

10. It is found that in accordance with the requirements of the scholarship fund, applicants were required to submit personal biographical, financial and academic information, as well as information regarding the applicant's family's personal finances to the scholarship committee.

 

11. It is found that at the time the information was provided to the scholarship committee by the applicant, the applicant had a reasonable expectation that the personal privacy rights that he and his family have in the information provided, would be protected by the scholarship committee and the scholarship selection process.

 

12. After a thorough review of the documents described in paragraphs 8 and 9 of the findings above, which were submitted for in camera inspection, it is found that the documents are exceedingly personal in nature.

 

Docket #FIC 90-505 Page 4

 

13. It is found that the only scholarship data withheld from disclosure by the respondent was the information provided by each applicant with the reasonable expectation that it would be reviewed solely by individuals responsible for selecting the scholarship recipient(s).

 

14. It is further found that the information that the respondent withheld from disclosure was received by her in her capacity as one of the selectors of the scholarship recipient(s).

 

15. Section 1-18a(d), G.S., in pertinent part, states that a "public record or file" means:

 

"...any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency...." [Emphasis added].

 

16. It is found that the information contained in the documents that the complainant is seeking was provided for a private purpose to the scholarship committee.

 

17. Given the extraordinarily personal nature of the information, and the circumstances under which it was solicited and provided, it is concluded that the documents the complainant is seeking are not public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), 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 hereby dismissed.

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 13, 1991.

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission

 

Docket #FIC 90-505 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:

Richard H. Kosinski, Esq.

106 Farmington Avenue

New Britain, CT 06053

 

Superintendent of Schools Consolidated School District of New Britain

c/o Attorney Elizabeth Ann Ceriello

c/o New Britain Board of Education

One Liberty Square

New Britain, CT 06050

 

 

Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission