FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Robert A. Frahm and the Hartford Courant,
against Docket #FIC 92-28
Superintendent, Bloomfield Public Schools and Bloomfield Education Association,
Respondents November 23, 1992
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 27, 1992, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.
At the hearing on this matter, the Bloomfield Education Association (hereinafter "BEA") was granted party status.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent superintendent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter dated December 12, 1991 the complainants requested from the respondent superintendent a copy of the current teachers' contract for the Bloomfield Public Schools (hereinafter "contract") and copies of all grievances on file, which allege violations of the contract, including those that reached arbitration or were resolved. The complainant specifically indicated that he was not seeking access to any grievances pertaining to teacher performance or evaluations that would be exempt from disclosure pursuant to 10-151c, G.S.
3. By reply letter dated December 30, 1991 the respondent superintendent provided the complainant with a copy of the requested contract. He informed the complainants however, that
Docket #FIC 92-28 Page 2
he would not provide them with the requested grievances since under the contract, grievances are to remain confidential unless the BEA wishes to disclose them.
4. By letter dated January 17, 1992 and filed January 22, 1992, the complainants appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent superintendent denied access to the requested grievances.
5. It is found that the complainants were seeking access to grievances that were filed under the most current contract at the time of this request, which was effective from July 1, 1989 through June 30, 1992.
6. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or
state statute, all records maintained or kept on file
by any public agency...shall be public records and
every person shall have the right to...receive a copy
of such records in accordance with the provisions of
7. It is concluded that the requested grievances are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
8. The respondent superintendent maintains that the requested grievances should not be disclosed because they are maintained separately from personnel files, are treated as confidential and their disclosure would discourage individuals from filing grievances.
9. It is found that neither the fact that the requested grievances are maintained separately from personnel files nor the confidentiality clause in the contract provide exemptions from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act.
10. It is also found that the respondent superintendent failed to prove that disclosure of the requested grievances would discourage individuals from filing them.
11. The respondent BEA maintains that the requested records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(9), G.S.
12. Section 1-19(b)(9), G.S., exempts from disclosure "records, reports and statements of strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining."
13. It is found that the grievances sought by the complainant contain the following information: the
Docket #FIC 92-28 Page 3
grievants' names, the names of the persons against whom the grievances were filed, the nature of the complaints, a reference to the contract sections at issue, and the working conditions, if any, complained of.
14. Based upon the description of the content of grievances as set forth in paragraph 13, above, it is also found that disclosure of the requested grievances would not reveal "strategy or negotiations" involved in the collective bargaining process.
15. It is also found that the respondents did not offer proof, other than the general description of contents in paragraph 13, above, that the requested grievances are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(9), G.S.
16. It is concluded therefore that the respondent superintendent violated the provisions of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with prompt access to the requested grievances.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent superintendent shall forthwith provide the complainant with copies of the requested grievances filed under the contract described in paragraph 5, of the findings above, excluding those grievances that pertain to teacher performance or evaluations.
2. Henceforth the respondent superintendent shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of November 23, 1992.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-28 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:
Robert A. Frahm
The Hartford Courant
285 Broad Street
Hartford, CT 06115
Superintendent, Bloomfield Public Schools
c/o Neil Macy
10 Mallard Drive
Bloomfield, CT 06002
Bloomfield Education Association
c/o Attorney Ronald Cordilico
21 Oak Street, Suite 500
Hartford, CT 06106
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission