FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Natalie Missakian and the New Haven Register,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997-227

Personnel Director, Board of Education, New Haven Public Schools; and Board of Education, New Haven Public Schools,

 

 

Respondents

April 8, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 16, 1997, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Gloria Rogers requested to intervene as a party at the hearing on this matter, which request was granted.

        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(1), G.S. (prior to October 1, 1997, 1-18a(a), G.S.).

        2. The parties stipulated that the record in Docket # FIC1997-226, Natalie Missakian and the New Haven Register against Chairman, Impartial Hearing Panel, Board of Education, New Haven Public Schools; and Board of Education, New Haven Public Schools, is incorporated into the record in this matter.

        3. By letter faxed to the respondents on June 23, 1997, the complainants requested that the respondent personnel director provide them with copies of statements taken from students as part of a school investigation into an allegation that such students, who were approximately ten years old, were strip-searched in an attempt to recover missing money.

        4. By letter dated July 18, 1997, the respondents denied the complainants’ request, citing a number of exemptions.

        5. By letter dated July 18, 1997 and filed with the Commission on July 23, 1997, the complainants alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying them copies of the statements described in paragraph 3, above.

        6. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:

[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained…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…hours or to receive a copy of such records… in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15….

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

[a]ny person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record. The fee for any copy provided in accordance with the [FOI] act…by [municipal] public agencies, as defined in section 1-18a, shall not exceed fifty cents per page….

        8. Among other exemptions, the respondents contend that 1-19(b)(11), G.S., provides a basis to withhold the records described in paragraph 3, above.

        9. Section 1-19(b)(11), G.S., in relevant part provides that:

[n]othing in the [FOI] Act…shall be construed to require disclosure of [the] names or 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 such student who is younger than eighteen years of age…

        10. It is found that the complainants consent to the redaction of the names of the students whose statements are at issue in this matter. However, it is further found that mere redaction of the students’ names would not ensure that their identities would be protected.

        11. Based upon the findings set forth in paragraph 10, above, it is concluded that 1-19(b)(11), G.S., exempts from disclosure in this case the records described in paragraph 3, above, and that, therefore, the respondents did not violate 1-19(a) and 1-15(a), G.S., by denying the complainants copies of such records.

        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 April 8, 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:
Natalie Missakian and the New Haven Register
c/o Chris Hoffman
40 Sargent Drive
New Haven, CT 06511-5918

Chairman, Impartial Hearing Panel, Board of Education, New Haven Public Schools; and Board of Education, New Haven Public Schools
c/o Atty. Jay E. Bovilsky
700 State Street
P.O. Box 1960
New Haven, CT 06509

Gloria Rogers
c/o Atty. Stephen Courtney
Gesmonde, Pietrosimone, Sgrignari & Pinkus, L.L.C.
3127-3129 Whitney Avenue
Hamden, CT 06518

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-227/FD/tcg/04171998