FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

FINAL DECISION
Docket #FIC 1997-036
October 8, 1997

In the Matter of a Complaint by Charles Peterson, Complainant
against
Patricia Washington, Personnel Director City of Hartford; and City of Hartford, Respondents

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 18, 1997 at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Docket #FIC 1996-035, Charles Peterson v. Karen Buffkin, Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of Hartford and City of Hartford, was consolidated with the above-captioned matter for purpose of hearing.

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 dated November 13, 1996, the complainant requested that the respondent director permit him to inspect all test results for the 1993/1994 promotional lieutenants examination ("examination").

3. It is found that by letter dated November 19, 1996 the Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of Hartford ("counsel" or "counsel for the city"), informed the complainant that his request was being reviewed and that he would be contacted shortly.

4. It is found that approximately three to four weeks following counsel’s November 19, 1996 letter, the complainant and counsel discussed the request, and at that time, in response to counsel’s request for a more specific explanation of the records being sought, the complainant requested the following records:

a. the oral board panel’s scoring sheets containing the individual scores of candidates;

Docket # FIC 1997-036 Page 2

b. the written answers of candidates; and

c. the taped oral interviews conducted with candidates.

5. Having failed to receive the records described in paragraph 4 of the findings, above, the complainant, by letter dated January 11, 1997 and filed on January 17, 1997, alleged that counsel for the city violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying him access to such records. That complaint was docketed as contested case docket #FIC 1997-035, Charles Peterson v. Karen Buffkin, Assistant Corporation Counsel, City of Hartford and City of Hartford. The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty upon the respondents.

6. It is found that by letter dated January 29, 1997, the complainant made several requests of the respondent director, including that the respondent director provide him with a copy of the taped interviews, described in paragraph 4c. of the findings, above.

7. It is also found that by letter dated January 30, 1997 the respondent director acknowledged receipt of the January 29, 1997 request for the tapes, and denied such request by letter dated February 13, 1997.

8. Having failed to receive the requested tapes, the complainant, by letter dated February 25, 1997 filed this complaint with the Commission on February 27, 1997, alleging that the respondent director violated the FOI Act. The complainant requested the imposition of a civil penalty upon the respondents.

9. At the hearing on this matter, the parties agreed that the records described in paragraph 4 of the findings, above, are the records at issue in both docket #sFIC 1997-035 and 1997-036 (hereinafter "requested records").

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

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

Docket # FIC 1997-036 Page 3

12. The respondents contend that the requested records are exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(6), G.S., which permits the nondisclosure of "[t]est questions, scoring keys and other examination data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment or academic examinations."

13. It is found that the requested records are records of an examination for employment within the meaning of 1-19(b)(6), G.S.

14. With respect to the requested records described in paragraph 4a. and 4b. of the findings, above, it is found that the scoring sheets and written answers of candidates are not test questions, scoring keys or examination data used to administer an examination for employment, within the meaning of 1-19(b)(6), G.S.

15. It is therefore, concluded that the scoring sheets and written answer sheets of candidates are not exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(6), G.S.

16. With respect to the requested records described in paragraph 4c. of the findings, above, it is found that the respondent director maintains such tapes as indicated in her February 13, 1997 letter to the complainant, referred to in paragraph 7 of the findings, above.

17. It is also found that the tapes contain examination questions and candidate responses to such questions.

18. It is further found that the examination questions on the tapes are permissively exempt from disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(6), G.S.

19. It is further found that the candidate responses on the tapes are not test questions, scoring keys or examination data used to administer an examination for employment, within the meaning of 1-19(b)(6), G.S., and are therefore, not exempt from disclosure.

20. With respect to all of the requested records, it is found that the respondent director is the custodian of such records and the official to whom the complainant made his requests.

It is therefore, concluded that the respondent director violated 1-19(a), G.S., when she failed to provide the complainant with the requested records with the exception of the questions contained on the tapes.

22. The Commission in its discretion declines to impose a civil penalty in this matter.

Docket # FIC 1997-036 Page 4

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

1. Forthwith, the respondent director shall provide the complainant with a copy of the requested records as described in paragraph 4 of the findings, above.

2. In complying with paragraph 1 of the order, above, the respondent director may redact any test questions contained on the subject tapes, described in paragraphs 16 through 19, inclusive.

3. Henceforth, the respondent director shall strictly comply with 1-19(a), G.S.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 8, 1997.

_________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission

Docket # FIC 1997-036 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:
Charles Peterson
136 Wheeler Road
Wethersfield, CT 06109

Patricia Washington, Personnel Director City of Hartford; and City of Hartford
c/o Ivan A. Ramos
Special Counsel
550 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-036/tcg/10081997