FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-272
June 25, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Kevin S. Tierney, Complainant
against
Superintendent of Schools, Guilford Public Schools; Principal, Guilford High School; and Athletic Director, Guilford High School, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 6, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of Section 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. By letter dated June 20, 1996, the complainant requested that the respondent superintendent of schools provide him with copies of seven enumerated categories of records relating to the suspension of the complainant’s son from his high school wrestling team, which suspension had the result of precluding the respondent’s son from participating in the New England wrestling tournament.

3. By letter dated June 27, 1996, the respondent superintendent provided the complainant with records relating to the suspension, one of which was a handwritten "Discipline Report", dated March 1996, prepared by Mr. Dorwin, with the names of other students redacted.

4. By letter dated June 27, 1996, and filed with the Commission on July 2, 1996, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by failing to respond to his request letter of June 20, 1996.

5. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in pertinent part:

Except 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 receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.

6. Section 1-15(a), G.S., in turn, provides in pertinent part that:

(a)ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly, upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.

7. However, 1-19(b)(11), G.S., provides for an exception from mandatory disclosure of:

"names and addresses of students enrolled in any public school or college without the consent of each student whose name or address is to be disclosed who is eighteen years of age or older and a parent or guardian of each student who is younger than eighteen years of age…."

8. It is found that the respondents did provide the requested records promptly within the meaning of 1-15(a), G.S., given all the circumstances, including the need to perform a diligent search, the need for legal review, and the press of other school business at the time of graduation ceremonies.

9. Furthermore, it is concluded that the names of other students that were redacted from the handwritten "Discipline Report", dated March 1996, prepared by Mr. Dorwin, are exempted from mandatory disclosure by the provisions of 1-19(b)(11), G.S.

10. It is also found that, except for the redacted names discussed at paragraphs 3 and 9, above, the respondents have provided the complainant with all records in their custody relating to the suspension. Specifically, it is found that, with reference to the appeal committee that was constituted to review the suspension, there are no notes in existence taken by participants at the February 29, 1996 meeting of such committee.

11. At the hearing in this matter, the complainant requested that the respondents provide him with an affidavit attesting to the fact that a diligent search had been conducted with respect to notes taken by participants at the February 29, 1996 meeting of the appeal committee.

12. However, in view of the finding of fact at paragraph 10, above, it is found that the submission of a diligent search affidavit by participants at the February 29, 1996 meeting of the appeal committee is not warranted.

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 June 25, 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:
Kevin S. Tierney
18 Whitethorn Drive
Guilford, CT 06437

Superintendent of Schools, Guilford Public Schools; Principal, Guilford High School; and Athletic Director, Guilford High School
c/o Mark J. Sommaruga, Esq.
Sullivan, Schoen, Campane & Connon, LLC
646 Prospect Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-272/FD/eal/06301997