FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1996-544
July 23, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Derek Viel, Complainant
against
Frank Salamon, Director, Alternate Route To Certification, State Of Connecticut, Department Of Higher Education; Valerie F. Lewis, Deputy Commissioner, State Of Connecticut, Department Of Higher Education; And State Of Connecticut, Department Of Higher Education, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 18, 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 1-18a(a), G.S.

2. By letter to the respondent director dated August 9, 1996, the complainant requested copies of the following records:

the criteria for the course that he allegedly did not complete;

his student teaching evaluations;

his grades; and

(d) any relevant assessment of his performance in the
Alternate Route To Certification ("ARC") program.

Docket #FIC1996-544 Page 2

3. Under cover letter to the complainant dated August 12, 1996, the respondent director provided the complainant with his student evaluation records, information concerning his attendance and performance in the ARC program, and the reasons why he was not allowed to graduate from the ARC program.

4. By letter dated September 5, 1996, the complainant advised the respondent director that he had not been provided with copies of those records generally described in paragraph 2(c), above, and he specifically requested copies of:

the attendance and lateness records for all students in the ARC program for both the Core and the methods sections; and the contents of his ARC program file.

In his letter the complainant instructed the respondent director to redact any students’ names except his name.

5. By letter to the complainant dated September 23, 1996, the director acknowledged receipt of the September 5, 1996 request on September 13, 1996, and advised him that the letter was first reviewed on September 16, 1996, and thereafter referred to the respondent deputy commissioner for review.

6. By letter to the complainant dated September 23, 1996, the respondent deputy commissioner acknowledged receipt from the respondent director of the September 5, 1996 request, and asked the complainant to formalize his records request using the "Request For Information" form enclosed with her letter.

7. By letter to the respondent deputy commissioner dated September 28, 1996, but mailed on October 4, 1996, the complainant reiterated his request for the records specified in paragraph 4, above.

8. On behalf of the respondent deputy commissioner, under cover letter to the complainant dated October 21, 1996, the respondent director provided the complainant with copies of his attendance and lateness data for the Core section and his methods section, and the contents of his ARC file.

9. By letter of complaint dated October 21, 1996, and filed with the Commission on October 24, 1996, the complainant alleged that the respondents failed to fully comply with his requests for specified records, and improperly conditioned compliance with his records requests on his use of a particular request form. The complainant also requested the imposition of a civil penalty against the named respondents.

Docket #FIC1996-544 Page 3

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

11. It is also found that the respondent deputy commissioner’s request that the complainant re-submit his September 5, 1996 written records request using the agency’s "Request For Information" form is not permitted under Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act.

12. With respect to the complainant’s September 5 and 28, 1996 records requests it is found that the Core lateness data do not exist, except as part of the respondent director’s personal notes about ARC students, and that the respondents failed to provide the complainant with copies of the attendance and lateness records for all methods sections students with identities redacted.

13. At the hearing on this matter the respondents agreed to provide the complainant with copies of the Core lateness data, and the attendance and lateness records for all methods sections students, excluding the students’ names, on or before March 27, 1997.

14. It is found that the reason for the delay in providing copies of the records sought in the complainant’s September 5 and 28, 1997 requests was that: the 1996 ARC program ended in mid-August 1996 and the methods instructors did not have to submit their records until the program had concluded; the ARC program records were moved from the ARC program’s summer site at a West Hartford school to the ARC offices at the respondent department in September 1996; and the names and identifying information of students other than the complainant had to be redacted prior to the disclosure of the requested records.

15. It is concluded that the respondents violated the disclosure provisions of 1-15(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with copies of all of the records sought in his September 5 and 28, 1997 records requests and by imposing an impermissible pre-condition to disclosure as described in paragraph 11, above.

16. In its discretion the Commission declines to consider the imposition of civil penalties.

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

1. The respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with copies of those records described in paragraph 13 of the findings, above.

Docket #FIC1996-544 Page 4

2. Henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the disclosure provisions of 1-15(a), G.S.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 23, 1997.

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission

Docket #FIC1996-544 Page 5

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:
Derek Viel
27 Englewood Drive
Manchester, CT 06040

Frank Salamon, Director, Alternate Route To Certification, State Of Connecticut, Department Of Higher Education; Valerie F. Lewis, Deputy Commissioner, State Of Connecticut, Department Of Higher Education; And State Of Connecticut, Department Of Higher Education
c/o Jane D. Cornerford, Esq.
Assistant Attorney General
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC 1996-544/FD/eal/beh/08011997