FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 95-22 and
Docket #FIC 95-40
Oxford Board of Education,
Respondent November 8, 1995
The above-captioned matters were consolidated for hearing as contested cases on August 29, 1995, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared 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 to the Commission dated January 31 and February 1, 1995, and filed February 2 and 6, 1995, respectively, the complainant alleged that the respondent failed and refused to give her prompt access to its out of district educational bills ("bills"). A civil penalty was requested.
3. It is found that by letters to the respondent dated January 31 and February 1, 1995, the complainant requested access to the respondent's bills.
4. It is found that the requested bills are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
5. It is found that when the complainant appeared at the respondent's office on January 31 and February 1, 1995, she was told that the superintendent was out of the office due to an illness, and the bills could not be disclosed without his approval.
Docket #FIC 95-22 and Docket #FIC 95-40 Page 2
6. It is found that the bills at issue are essentially invoices for services rendered to special education students and as such may contain the name of, or some identifying reference to, the student who utilized the service.
7. It is found that the respondent's policy is to disclose the bills after the necessary redactions have been done to protect the privacy of the students.
8. It is found that in the superintendent's absence no one else in the respondent's office attempted to locate the bills in question to determine whether or not redaction was needed or had already been performed, in an effort to promptly comply with the complainant's requests.
9. It is concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with access to the bills.
10. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondent as requested.
11. By letter of complaint dated February 15, 1995, and filed with the Commission on February 17, 1995, the complainant alleged that the respondent failed to fully comply with her requests for copies of "all bills for [her daughter] from December 1, 1993 through January 31, 1995." A civil penalty was requested.
12. It is found that by oral and written requests dated January 31, 1995 and February 8, 1995, the complainant asked the respondent to provide a copy of all of her daughter's bills for the specified time period.
13. It is found that the requested bills are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d), G.S.
14. It is found that prior to February 9, 1995, the respondent provided the complainant with some of the bills that were responsive to her request, and then under cover letter dated February 9, 1995, provided her with two additional bills.
15. It is concluded, however, that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with a copy of the requested records.
16. The Commission declines to impose a civil penalty against the respondent as requested.
Docket #FIC 95-22 and Docket #FIC 95-40 Page 3
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.
1. Forthwith, the respondent shall provide the complainant with access to all out of district educational bills, and copies of her daughter's bills not previously provided in accordance with her requests. The complainant shall not be charged for any copies provided in accordance with this order.
2. Henceforth the respondent shall fully comply with the provisions of 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S.
3. The Commission notes that in response to these complaints the respondent has created a special notebook that contains all invoice records for all special education students, with the appropriate redactions, which is available to members of the public. Still, the Commission strongly urges the respondent to immediately devise and implement a record keeping system that allows all of its personnel to locate and access any of the respondent's records promptly upon request.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of November 8, 1995.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 95-22 and Docket #FIC 95-40 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:
11 Larkey Road
Oxford, CT 06478
Oxford Board of Education
429 Oxford Road
Oxford, CT 06478-1231
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission