FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
Philip W. Evans,
against Docket #FIC 1995-398
Superintendent of Schools, Regional School
District #17; Chairman, Board of Education,
Regional School District #17; and Director
of Finance and Operations, Regional School
Respondents October 16, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 25, 1996, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint filed with this Commission on November 17, 1995, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated the provisions of the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by partially denying his October 19, 1995 and October 30, 1995 requests for access to public records.
3. It is found that by letter dated October 19, 1995, the complainant requested access to essentially the following records, with the option to copy the records of his choice upon inspection:
· phone bills from District #17 from May 15, 1995 through October 11, 1995 and
particularly calls made to specified phone numbers;
· letters and faxes to and from the law firms of Robinson & Cole and Siegal,
O’Connor, Schiff & Zangari from May 15, 1995 to October 11, 1995;
· bills from the above-referenced law firms during the above-referenced time
periods showing dates of services performed and the location by street
address of service; and
· the above-referenced billing information for any other law firm’s services
utilized by the District #17 board of education, superintendent or staff
in conjunction with the state elections enforcement commission file
4. Also in his letter of October 19, 1995, the complainant made an advance request for receipt of any attorney bills that may not yet have been received by the respondents for the October 1995 billing period.
5. It is found that the complainant’s request identified in paragraph 4, above, did not constitute a request for public records at that time.
6. It is also found that to the degree such records identified in paragraph 3, above, exist, such records are public records within the meaning of §1-18a(d), G.S.
7. It is found that in response to the complainant’s October 19, 1995 request, the respondent superintendent asked the respondent director of finance and operations (“director”) to gather the pertinent records.
8. It is found that after a search of the district’s files, the director retrieved the law firm fax and correspondence file and billing documents for the operative period, and he also retrieved the Southern New England Telephone and “MCI” telephone files going back to May, 1995.
9. It is found that by letter dated October 24, 1995, the director informed the complainant that the records requested in his October 19, 1995 letter were available for his inspection.
10. It is found that on October 27, 1995, the complainant went to the respondents’ offices to inspect the requested records.
11. By letter dated October 30, 1995 to the respondents, the complainant requested access to a certain media press release, but other than expressing his belief that the respondents had not fully complied with his request of October 19, 1995, he requested no further records at that time.
12. It is found that the media press release was made available for the complainant’s inspection and the complainant was so notified by a letter from the director dated November 3, 1995.
13. It is found that the respondents did not withhold any documents responsive to the complainant’s October 19 or 30, 1995 requests for public records.
14. It is found that the respondent received a bill from the law firm of Robinson and Cole on or about December 11, 1995, but that such bill was not a public record at the time of the complainant’s October requests or November appeal to this Commission.
15. At the hearing into this matter, the complainant requested that this Commission order the respondents to provide to him an accounting for any future records requests detailing precisely which items are available for his inspection, and that the respondents be prohibited from making a general statement that all responsive information is available pursuant to his request.
16. It is found that the complainant’s request identified in paragraph 15, above, does not state a claim for relief under the provisions of the FOI Act.
17. It is concluded that under the facts of this case, the respondents are not in violation of the provisions of the FOI Act.
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.
2. Although technically outside the scope of the complaint in this matter, the Commission wishes to express its hopes that the respondents have supplied the December 11, 1995 Robinson and Cole bill, or those portions thereof to the extent required by law, to the complainant in order to avoid the possible resumption of this administrative process by the complainant.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 16, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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:
Philip W. Evans
25 Bar Gate Trail
Killingworth, CT 06419-1372
Superintendent of Schools, Regional School District #17; Chairman, Board of Education,
Regional School District #17; and Director of Finance and Operations, Regional School
c/o Kevin M. McGlinchey, Esq.
Shipman & Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103-2819
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission