FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Michael Cates, Sr.,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997-235

Board of Education, Town of Voluntown,

 

 

Respondents

February 25, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 3, 1997, at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(1), G.S. (prior to October 1, 1997, 1-18a(a), G.S.).

        2. On July 2, 1997, the complainant requested that the respondent provide him with a number of records, including the following:

a. the identity of the individual who authorized the filing of a certain complaint with the State Police on 3/15/97, and minutes related to a meeting regarding such action;

b. names, minutes, and notes related to persons making allegations against the complainant;

c. all incident reports of injury of the complainant’s children and ward;

d. the resume and job description of a specified employee.

        3. By letter dated July 9, 1997, the respondent responded to the complainant’s request, provided access to certain records, answered questions put forth by the complainant, and assessed a fee of twenty-five cents per page for copies of records provided.

        4. By letter dated July 26, 1997, and filed on July 31, 1997, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by failing to provide the records more fully described in paragraph 2, above, and by charging the copying fee described in paragraph 3, above.

        5. It is found that the requested records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(5) (prior to October 1, 1997, 1-18a(d)) and 1-19(a), G.S.).

        6. With respect to the complainant’s allegation concerning the fees charged by the respondent, 1-15(a), G.S., in relevant part states:

…[t]he fee for any copy provided in accordance with the [FOI] act…by…a state agency…shall not exceed twenty-five cents per page, and…by all other public agencies, as defined in section 1-18a, shall not exceed fifty cents per page…

        7. It is found that the respondent’s assessed fee does not exceed the fee permitted by the FOI Act.

        8. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the provisions of 1-15(a), G.S., by assessing such fee.

        9. With respect to the complainant’s request more fully described in paragraph 2.a., above, the respondent contends and it is found that no records exist, since an individual made the report in question to the state police, not the respondent.

        10. With respect to the complainant’s request more fully described in paragraph 2.b., above, the respondent contends and it is found that allegations were made orally and that no notes or notes of meetings related to this incident exist, except a tape of a meeting with the complainant which was made available to the complainant in the respondent’s July 9, 1997 letter, referenced in paragraph 3, above.

        11. It is found that the FOI Act mandates agencies to provide existing records but does not require agencies to create records or to answer questions.

        12. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the provisions of 1-19(a), G.S., with respect to the requests for records more fully described in paragraphs 2.a. and 2.b., above.

        13. With respect to the complainant’s request more fully described in paragraph 2.c., above, it is found that the respondent provided prompt access to all existing records related to the complainant’s children but initially withheld a record relating to the complainant’s ward, pending receipt of an official record documenting the complainant’s guardianship pursuant to 1-19(b)(11), G.S.

        14. Section 1-19(b)(11), G.S., in relevant part provides that an agency need not disclose:

names…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 such student who is younger than eighteen years of age…

        15. It is found that the child to which the record pertains is less than eighteen years of age.

        16. It is found that the complainant had previously provided proof of guardianship to the respondent but that the respondent could not locate same at the time of the complainant’s request. It is further found that, upon resubmission of the needed documentation by the complainant, the respondent forthwith provided the requested record.

        17. It is further found that the respondent’s provision of the requested report was prompt under the facts and circumstances of this case.

        18. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the provisions of 1-19(a), G.S., with respect to the complainant’s request more fully described in paragraph 2.c., above.

        19. With respect to the complainant’s request more fully described in paragraph 2.d., above, it is found that the respondent’s initial response as articulated in the July 9, 1997 letter referenced in paragraph 3, above, consisted only of a statement related to the employment date of the specified employee. It is further found that the respondent provided the requested resume and job description records to the complainant in October, 1997.

        20. It is found that the respondent’s provision of the resume and job description records was not prompt within the meaning of 1-19(a), G.S. The respondent acknowledged that its response was late and indicated its intent to avoid future late responses.

        21. It is concluded that the respondent violated the provisions of 1-19(a),G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with all of the records responsive to the complainant’s request, described in paragraph 2.d., above.

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

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

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 25, 1998.

_________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
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:
Michael Cates, Sr.
256 Congdon Road
Voluntown, CT 06384

Board of Education, Town of Voluntown
c/o Frederick L. Dorsey
Siegel, O’Connor, Schiff & Zangari, PC
P.O. Drawer 906
171 Orange Street
New Haven, CT 06504

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-235/FD/tcg/02251998