FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-175
January 22, 1997
In the Matter of a Complaint by Paul Magnano, Complainant(s)
against
Superintendent of Schools, East Haddam Public Schools, Respondent(s)

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 1, 1996, at which time the complainant and 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. It is found that on April 9, 1996 the East Haddam Board of Education ("board") held a meeting ("April meeting"), and the meeting was videotaped by Century Communications ("Century").

3. It is found that as a public service to the town, Century videotapes the board’s meetings, the videotapes are then broadcast on Century’s public access channel, and after all broadcasts have aired, the videotapes are given to the board for archiving.

4. It is found that on or about May 2, 1996 the complainant made an oral request to the media specialist at the high school where the April meeting was held, for a copy of the videotape of the April meeting.

5. It is found that at the time of his oral request the media specialist advised the complainant that: the only videotape of the April meeting was the one made by Century; the videotape was in the custody of Century until all scheduled broadcasts had aired; and therefore the videotape would probably not be available from the board for up to two weeks.

6. It is found that by letter to the respondent dated May 3, 1996, and received by the respondent on May 9, 1996, the complainant formally requested a copy of the videotape of the April meeting.

7. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on May 9, 1996, the complainant alleged that the respondent denied his request for a copy of the videotape of board’s April meeting.

8. It is found that by letter to the complainant dated May 9, 1996, the respondent informed the complainant that the cost of a copy of the videotape of the April meeting would be $15.56, because the board employee who would copy the videotape receives an hourly salary of $31.12, and it would take her one half hour to reproduce the videotape. The respondent suggested that if the complainant did not wish to remit the payment of $15.56 to the board, he might simply videotape Century’s broadcast of the April meeting if he were a cable subscriber.

9. It is found that the complainant provided the respondent with a blank videotape onto which the videotape of the April meeting could be copied, but expressly declined to make the payment of $15.56.

10. Section 1-18a(d), G.S., defines a public record as:

"any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency ….

11. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that :

… all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency… shall be public records ….

12. It is found that at the time of the complainant’s requests the videotape at issue was not a public record as described in either 1-18a(d) or 1-19(a), G.S., because it had not yet been received by the board to be archived.

13. It is found that the respondent did not deny the complainant access to, or a copy of a public record.

14. Therefore it is concluded that the respondent did not violate the provisions of either 1-15(a) or 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with the requested videotape.

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 January 22, 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:

Paul Magnano
389 Tater Hill Road
East Haddam, CT 06423

Superintendent of Schools, East Haddam Public Schools
c/o William R. Connon, Esq.
Sullivan, Schoen, Campane & Connon
646 Prospect Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1996-175/FD/eal/01291997