FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-259
January 8, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by Joe Wojtas and The Day Publishing Company, Complainants
against
Board of Education, Town of Stonington, Respondent

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 30, 1996, at which time the complainants 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 June 6, 1996, the complainants requested that the respondent provide them with a copy of a grievance filed by the teachers’ union concerning the release of grievances to the New London Day newspaper in the past.

3. It is found that on or about June 7, 1996, the respondent telephoned the complainants and orally denied their request on the basis that the grievance would not be released until it was "resolved."

4. It is found that the requested grievance is a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.

5. By letter dated June 20, 1996, and filed with the Commission on June 24, 1996, the complainants appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying them a copy of the requested grievance.

6. Section 1-19(a), G.S., in relevant part states: [e]xcept as otherwise provided by 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 inspect such records promptly … or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15" [which provides (a) [a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record].

7. With respect to the allegations contained in paragraph 5, above, the respondent contends that the requested grievance is exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(9), G.S.

8. Section 1-19(b)(9), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of "records, reports and statements of strategy or negotiations with respect to collective bargaining."

9. It is found that the grievance sought by the complainants contains the following information: the identities of those who filed the grievance and those against whom the grievance was filed, the nature of the complaint, a reference to the contract section(s) at issue, and the matter complained of.

10. In Bloomfield Education Association v. Robert A. Frahm, 646 A.2d 247, 35 Conn. App. 384, the Court determined that a grievance filed under a collective bargaining agreement does not constitute a record, report or statement of strategy or negotiations within the meaning of 1-19(b)(9), G.S.

11. It is concluded that the grievance at issue is not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(9), G.S.

12. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide a copy of the requested grievance to the complainants.

The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

1. The respondent shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy of the requested grievance, more fully described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above.

2. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 8, 1997.

__________________________
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:

Joe Wojtas and The Day Publishing Company
P.O. Box 1231
New London, CT 06320

Board of Education, Town of Stonington
49 North Stonington Road
P.O. Box 479
Old Mystic, CT 06372

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-259/FD/eal/011796