FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Salvatore DeFilippo, Sr.,
against Docket #FIC 92-96
Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Education,
Respondent February 10, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on September 15, 1992, 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 letter dated March 13, 1992, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with copies of the following records regarding the complainant's employment with the State of Connecticut's Department of Education (hereinafter "DOE") from September 1975 through January 1991:
(a) written notification by the respondent upholding the complainant's dismissal from employment and the reasons therefor;
(b) written authorization by the respondent that Dave Sullivan represents the respondent and the DOE;
(c) public hearing documents regarding the complainant's dismissal from employment; and
(d) personnel records, dossiers, memoranda, evaluations correspondence, written complaints and letter book memos regarding the complainant's employment and job performance from 1975 to 1991.
Docket #FIC 92-96 Page 2
3. In his March 13th letter the complainant also requested that the respondent provide him with copies of the following grievance information:
(a) grievances and files related to grievances heard by the Division of Vocational Education ("DVE"), and the DVE's decisions in those cases regarding the complainant's employment and job performance;
(b) correspondence between Mr. Sullivan and the Federation of Teacher's Union regarding the complainant's employment and job performance; and
(c) names and positions of "all witnesses who will appear and testify at future hearings or in the pending arbitration proceeding" concerning the complainant's dismissal from employment.
4. By letter of reply dated March 20, 1992, the respondent acknowledged receipt of the complainant's records request and informed him that compliance would be forthcoming as quickly as possible given the fact that the complainant's "request is for information that may be in files located at different sites, [and] it will take some time to [assemble the requested information] ... for copying purposes."
5. In his reply letter the respondent further informed the complainant that the cost of providing the copies to him would be fifty cents (.50) per page, and he would be notified regarding the date that the copies would be available and the total cost of the copies.
6. By letter of complaint filed on March 23, 1992, the complainant appealed to this Commission.
7. On April 6, 1992, the respondent telephoned the complainant to notify him of the availability of the copies of the requested records, and to give him the total duplication cost of $710.50.
8. It is found that the complainant objected to payment of the duplication cost because he believed that it was exorbitant.
9. It is found that the complainant informed the respondent that he would "inquire as to the availability of renting a copying machine to copy the materials [himself]" and he would thereafter contact the respondent as to how to proceed with the request.
Docket #FIC 92-96 Page 3
8. By certified letter to the complainant dated April 10, 1992, the respondent reiterated his intention to comply with the complainant's records request, and his belief that he should await further instructions from the complainant.
9. Section 1-15, G.S., states in relevant part that:
... The fee for any copy provided in accordance with this section ... shall not exceed fifty cents per page.
10. It is found that between April and August, 1992, the complainant failed to contact the respondent, however, in the spirit of good faith and compliance with Connecticut's Freedom of Information Act ("FOIA"), by letter dated August 14, 1992, the respondent offered to provide the complainant with copies of all nonexempt documents in his possession at a cost of less than fifty cents (.50) per page. Specifically, the respondent offered the complainant the first twenty-five copies free of charge, and additional copies would be provided at a cost of twenty-five cents (.25) per page.
11. It is found that "letter book memos" do not exist in the respondent's files.
12. It is found that with the exception of handwritten notes (hereinafter "notes"), of the respondent's Personnel Administrator, Richard Wilber, taken at a mediation proceeding in July 1991, the respondent has from the outset attempted to fully comply with the complainant's records request.
13. It is found that the complainant has been given access to more than 1400 documents that may be responsive to his request.
14. The respondent maintains that the notes are exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(4), G.S., because they are settlement notes relating to a mediation session for a grievance involving the complainant and the DOE, and that matter has not yet been settled or adjudicated.
Docket #FIC 92-96 Page 4
15. Section 1-19(b)(4), G.S., states in relevant part that:
... records pertaining to strategy and negotiations with respect to pending claims or pending litigation to which the public agency is a party until such litigation or claim has been finally adjudicated or otherwise settled....
16. It is found that the records at issue are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S, except that the notes are exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(4), G.S.
17. It is concluded that any delay in compliance has been occasioned by the complainant's conduct.
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 February 10, 1993.
Mitchell W. Pearlman
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-96 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:
Salvatore DeFilippi, Sr.
3 Colony Street
Shelton, CT 06484
Commissioner, State of Connecticut, Department of Education
c/o Asst. Atty. Gen. Laurie A. Deane
110 Sherman Street
Hartford, CT 06105
Mitchell W. Pearlman
Acting Clerk of the Commission