FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Barbara Anne Marley,
against Docket #FIC 92-358
Superintendent, Killingly Public Schools,
Respondent August 25, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 3, 1993, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Mr. Almeida, a subject of the records at issue, requested and was granted party status. The records requested in this case, consisting of twenty-two pages, were also taken under seal by this Commission for an in camera inspection.
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 of complaint filed with this Commission on December 2, 1992, the complainant alleged that the respondent denied her access to public records by way of a non-response to her request in violation of the provisions of the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act.
3. It is found that on November 18, 1992, the complainant requested information concerning her son who was allegedly assaulted by a staff member, Mr. Almeida, on February 6, 1991. The request encompassed documented statements including those students and administrators interviewed as well as records of other pertinent investigatory activities.
4. It is found that the respondent failed to notify the complainant of its intent to deny access to the requested records within four business days pursuant to 1-21i(a), G.S.
5. It is accordingly concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-21i(a), G.S.
6. The requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
7. The respondent claims no exemption for pages 16 through
Docket #FIC 92-358 Page 2
22 of the records submitted for in camera inspection. Accordingly, for purposes of the remainder of this decision, those pages shall not be included in any references to those records "at issue" in this case.
8. It is concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to permit the complainant to promptly inspect those records that were submitted for in camera inspection at pages 16 through 22.
9. The respondent claims that disclosure of the records at issue could be potentially embarrassing to Mr. Almeida and other teachers because further publicity would constitute "going over old ground again and again."
10. It is found that the respondent conducted an internal investigation of the incident, which investigation generated documentation and resulted in an exoneration of Mr. Almeida.
11. It is found that the records of the investigation are kept in a locked location separate from any personnel file.
12. It is concluded that the records at issue are internal investigation records and not personnel or medical files and similar files within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S., as claimed by the respondent.
13. It is accordingly concluded that the records at issue are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
14. An in camera review of the records at issue reveals that the records at issue contain essentially the following:
descriptions of the incident which took place in an open classroom; a list of exhibits including a classroom description, pertinent public acts, school policy and faculty handbooks; the names of individuals providing statements; names, ages and grades of student witnesses interviewed; the name of the teacher's union representative, a description of the fact-finding efforts and a statement of the case status; statements of Mr. Almeida, the complainant's son, and two other teachers; and an overhead chart of the classroom and desk arrangement on February 6, 1991.
15. However, even if the records at issue were personnel or similiar files, disclosure of such records would not constitute an invasion of personal privacy because there is nothing potentially embarrassing in the records provided in camera. Furthermore, the underlying incident occurred in an open classroom before many witnesses.
16. It is therefore concluded that Mr. Almeida failed to prove a reasonable expectation of privacy with respect to the records at issue.
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17. The Commission notes that the names of minor students contained in the records at issue may be permissibly withheld from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(11), G.S.
18. It is concluded that the records at issue are not otherwise exempt from disclosure under the provisions of the FOI Act.
19. It is concluded that the respondent violated the
provisions of 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to permit the complainant to promptly inspect the records at issue under the facts of this case.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. The respondent shall provide to the complainant free of charge a copy of the requested records more fully described at paragraph 3 of the findings, above.
2. In complying with paragraph 1 of the order, above, the respondent may redact all names of minor students appearing therein.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 25, 1993.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-358 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:
Barbara Anne Marley
c/o Atty. Andrew S. Groher
RisCassi & Davis, P. C.
131 Oak Street
P. O. Box 260550
Hartford, CT 06126-0550
Superintendent, Killingly Public Schools
c/o Atty. Elizabeth A. Foley
Sullivan, Lettick & Schoen
646 Prospect Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission