FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by

FINAL DECISION

Nancy Sharkey,

 

 

Complainants

 

 

against

 

Docket #FIC 1997-407

Ruth Feinberg-Connors, Superintendent, Ansonia Public Schools, City of Ansonia; Board of Education, Ansonia Public Schools, City of Ansonia; and Ansonia Public Schools, City of Ansonia,

 

 

Respondents

May 13, 1998

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 13, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, 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 dated November 13, 1997, counsel for the complainant, acting on the complainant’s behalf, requested twelve categories of records including:

a) a copy of the complainant’s personnel file, payroll file, application file, professional file and "any other file regarding her employment for Ansonia";

b) a "copy of the collective bargaining agreement between Ansonia and its teachers for every year from 1964 to the present";

c) records relating to any settlement agreements requiring the respondent board to reinstate a teacher returning from a maternity/childrearing leave to her former salary and seniority levels, or which require a payment to resolve such a claim, from 1964 to the present;

d) records relating to any settlement agreements requiring the respondent board to reinstate a teacher returning from a military leave to his or her former salary and seniority levels, or which require a payment to resolve such a claim, from 1964 to the present;

e) records relating to any instance of a teacher returning from a maternity/childrearing leave to her former salary and seniority levels, from 1964 to the present;

f) records relating to any instance of a teacher returning from a military leave to his or her former salary and seniority levels, from 1964 to the present;

g) records relating to any settlement agreements requiring the respondent board to reinstate a teacher returning from a professional leave to her former salary and seniority levels, or which require a payment to resolve such a claim, from 1964 to the present;

h) records relating to any instance of a teacher returning from a professional leave to her former salary and seniority levels, from 1964 to the present;

i) records relating to any settlement agreements requiring the respondent board to reinstate a teacher returning from a foreign teaching leave to his or her former salary and seniority levels, or which require a payment to resolve such a claim, from 1964 to the present;

j) records relating to any instance of a teacher returning from a foreign teaching leave to his or her former salary and seniority levels, from 1964 to the present;

k) records relating to any settlement agreements requiring the respondent board to reinstate a teacher returning from a Peace Corps/Teacher Corps leave to his or her former salary and seniority levels, or which require a payment to resolve such a claim, from 1964 to the present; and, finally,

l) records relating to any instance of a teacher returning from a Peace Corps/Teacher Corps leave to his or her former salary and seniority levels, from 1964 to the present.

        3. By letter dated November 17, 1997, counsel for the respondents offered to provide the records described at paragraphs 2a and 2b, above, following receipt of a copying charge of $328.00. With reference to the records requested as described at paragraphs 2c through 2l, above (the "requested records" or "records requested"), the respondents offered copies at 50 cents per page for "records as they may be specifically identified", but declined the complainant’s "request for a fishing expedition, by researching all of its files for the past 33 years."

        4. By letter dated and filed with the Commission on December 16, 1997, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by not providing all of the records specified at paragraph 2, above, and also requested the imposition of a civil penalty.

        5. It is found that the requested records are not organized in files based upon the categories set forth in the records request set forth at paragraph 2, above. It is found that the requested records could be located only by reviewing all personnel files, all grievance files and all litigation files of the respondent board for the last thirty-four years.

        6. It is found that there are 140 to 150 individual personnel files for current certified teachers and, it is estimated, about 800 to 1,200 such personnel files for the last thirty-four years. An average personnel file is thirty to fifty pages, so that only the personnel files could include as much as 60,000 pages. Additionally, there are about 100 to 130 grievance files for the thirty-four year period and a few litigation files.

        7. It is found, because there is no place on any form where the various categories of requested records are identified, a search for the requested records could not be performed by a clerical employee of the respondent board.

        8. It is also found that, in order to locate the requested records, all of the potentially relevant records must be interpreted and judgments must be formed as to whether each potentially relevant record meets any of the various categories of the records requested.

        9. It is found that only about ten or eleven persons employed by the respondent board would be capable of performing the search described at paragraph 8, above, to locate the requested records.

        10. It is concluded that the records request set forth at paragraphs 2c through 2l, above, is not a request for a search for specifically identified records, but rather a request that the respondents perform research concerning whether the respondent board has ever engaged in behavior that would have resulted in the creation of the requested records.

11. It is concluded that the respondents have not violated 1-19(a) or 1-15(a), G.S., by the refusal to perform the research required to respond to provide access to the records requested.

        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 May 13, 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:
Nancy Sharkey
c/o Atty. Winona W. Zimberlin
2 Congress Street
Hartford, CT 06114-1024

Ruth Feinberg-Connors, Superintendent, Ansonia Public Schools, City of Ansonia; Board of Education, Ansonia Public Schools, City of Ansonia; and Ansonia Public Schools, City of Ansonia
c/o Atty. Loren Lettick
1062 Barnes Road, Suite 307
Wallingford, CT 06492-2576

__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC1997-407/FD/tcg/05181998