FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-290
June 4, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Ron Robillard and The Chronicle Printing Company, Complainants
against
Superintendent of Schools, Windham Public Schools, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 23, 1996, at which time the complainants and respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts, and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.

William Franklin, the subject of the records at issue in this case, and the Windham Federation of Teachers ("WFT"), the bargaining agent for the Windham Public Schools’ certified personnel, requested and were granted intervenor status in this case.

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 by memorandum to the respondent dated June 14, 1996, the complainants asked to inspect the records pertaining to the three-day suspension of tenured teacher William Franklin.

3. It is found that by letter to the respondent dated July 8, 1996, Mr. Franklin requested that his "records of teacher performance and evaluation be kept confidential" in accordance with the provisions of 10-151c, G.S.

4. It is found that by letter to the respondent dated July 9, 1996, the WFT, on behalf of Mr. Franklin and pursuant to 10-151c, G.S., objected to the disclosure or release of the requested records as records of teacher performance and evaluation.

5. It is found that under cover letter to the complainant dated July 15, 1996, the respondent enclosed copies of the objections from Mr. Franklin and the WFT, and denied the complainants’ records request.

6. By letter of complaint dated July 16, 1996, and filed with the Commission on July 23, 1996, the complainants appealed the respondent’s denial of their records request.

7. It is found that the subject records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.

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

[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours.…

9. Section 10-151c, G.S., in relevant part provides that:

[a]ny records maintained or kept on file by any local or regional board of education which are records of teacher performance and evaluation shall not be deemed to be public records and shall not be subject to the provisions of 1-19, provided that any teacher may consent in writing to the release of his records by a board of education….

10. The respondent submitted the records that he deemed responsive to the complainants’ request to the Commission for in camera inspection, which records have been designated as in camera record #s 1996-290-1 through 1996-290-8.

11. It is found that in camera record #s 1996-290-1 and 1996-290-3 constitute records of disciplinary action taken against Mr. Franklin by his supervisors.

12. It is also found that in camera record #s 1996-290-2 and 1996-290-4 through 1996-290-7, inclusive, constitute memoranda relating to conduct by Mr. Franklin similar to that conduct for which he was disciplined in in camera record #s 1996-290-1 and 1996-290-3.

13. It is further found that in camera record # 1996-290-8 is a copy of a letter to Mr. Franklin from the WFT.

14. It is further found that the records identified in paragraphs 11 and 12, above, are records pertaining to Mr. Franklin’s conduct rather than records pertaining to "performance and evaluation" within the meaning of 10-151c, G.S.

15. It is also found that the record identified in paragraph 13, above, does not pertain to "performance and evaluation" within the meaning of 10-151c, G.S.

16. It is therefore concluded that the subject records are not exempt from disclosure by virtue of 10-151c, G.S., and that the respondent and intervenor have failed to claim any other exemption to disclosure with respect to the subject records.

17. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainants with prompt access to inspect the subject records.

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 complainants with access to inspect.in camera record #s 1996-290-1 through 1996-290-8, inclusive.

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

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of June 4, 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:

Ron Robillard and The Chronicle Printing Company
One Chronicle Road
PO Box 148
Willimantic, CT 06226-0148

Superintendent of Schools, Windham Public Schools
c/o Thomas B. Mooney, Esq.
Shipman & Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103

William Franklin, Windham Federation of Teachers
c/o Brian Doyle, Esq.
Ferguson, Doyle & Springer, PC
35 Marshall Road
Rocky Hill, CT 06067-1400

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission

FIC 1996-290/FD/eal/06161997