FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Philip W. Evans,  

Complainant

 

against

Docket #FIC 1996-438

Helen Reeve, Chairman, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; James Sheppard, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Edward Vynalek, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Robert Daves, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Rebecca Bergeron, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Jeanetta Coley, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Michael Dagastino, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Mrs. P.T. Wollack, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Robert Bilafer, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Robert Lentz, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education, As Members Of Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; and Regional School District # 17, Board Of Education; Charles F. Sweetman, Jr., Superintendent Of Schools, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Gary Shettle, Director Of Finance And Operations, Regional School District #17,  

Respondents

July 9, 1997

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 5, 1997, at which time the complainant and 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 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. It is found that by letter to the respondent Chairman, Regional School District #17, Board of Education (the "chairman"), dated June 20, 1996, the complainant asked to inspect and copy certain documents pertaining to the procurement of computer equipment from Madison Marketing for fiscal year 1993 through 1994 ("records request" or "requested records"). In his records request, the complainant identified seventeen categories of records that the respondent chairman should make available to him.

3. It is found that by letter to the complainant dated June 26, 1996, and received by the complainant on June 27, 1996, the respondent Superintendent Of Schools, Regional School District # 17, Board of Education (the "superintendent") notified the complainant that his records request had been received, and advised the complainant to contact the secretary for the respondent Director Of Finance And Operations, Regional School District #17 (the "finance director"), in order to make an appointment to inspect the requested records.

4. It is found that on July 11, 1996, the complainant went to the district’s offices and inspected some of the requested records.

5. It is also found that on July 11, 1996, the respondent finance director advised the complainant that, with respect to his requests to "view the [computer] equipment [that had been] installed" and to inspect and copy the instruction and training manuals that had been received with the computer equipment, he would have to contact the principal of the town’s high school (the "principal") because the equipment had been installed in the high school, and therefore any instruction or training manuals for the equipment would be in the principal’s possession.

6. By letter of complaint dated August 8, 1996, and filed with this Commission on August 14, 1996, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated the provisions of the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by not providing the requested records.

7. It is found that the requested 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:

… all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law … shall be public records and every person shall have the right to inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours or to receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15 . . .

9. Section 1-15(a), G.S., in relevant part provides that:

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

10. It is found that the respondent finance director is the custodian of most of the requested records, and that on July 11, 1996, all records maintained by the respondent finance director which were responsive to the complainant’s records request were made available to him.

11. It is therefore concluded that the complainant failed to prove a violation of 1-15(a) or 1-19(a), G.S., by the respondent finance director.

12. It is found that even though the respondent finance director advised the complainant on July 11, 1996, to contact the principal for requested records not in the finance director’s possession, the complainant did not go to the high school until mid-November 1996.

13. It is found that in mid-November 1996 the complainant went to the high school, was permitted to view the computer equipment, and was advised by the principal that no instruction or training manuals were in his possession.

14. It is found, however, that the principal did provide the complainant with a copy of three additional responsive documents that were in his possession at that time.

15. It is, accordingly, concluded that under the facts of this case, the complainant failed to prove a violation of the provisions of the FOI Act by any of the respondents and 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.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 9, 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:
Philip W. Evans
25 Bar Gate Trail
Killingworth, CT 06419-1372

Helen Reeve, Chairman, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; James Sheppard, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Edward Vynalek, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Robert Daves, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Rebecca Bergeron, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Jeanetta Coley, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Michael Dagastino, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Mrs. P.T. Wollack, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Robert Bilafer, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Robert Lentz, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education, As Members Of Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; and Regional School District # 17, Board Of Education; Charles F. Sweetman, Jr., Superintendent Of Schools, Regional School District #17, Board Of Education; Gary Shettle, Director Of Finance And Operations, Regional School District #17
c/o Anne H. Littlefield, Esq.
Shipman & Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103-2819

__________________________
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-438/FD/eal/07231997