FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-071|
Schools; and Board of Education,
Wolcott Public Schools,
|Respondents||July 8, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 15, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The case caption has been modified to reflect the appropriate name of the respondent board.
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.
2. By letter dated February 24, 1998, the complainant requested that the respondent superintendent provide her with copies of any and all documents generated in the course of evaluating her performance as a teacher, including:
a) a supervisory log concerning the complainant; b) notes taken concerning the complainants performance; c) scripts prepared in the course of observing the complainants teaching performance; d) copies of Connecticut Mastery Test results for all fourth grade students, identifying the students by third grade teacher; and e) any other documents pertaining to the assessment of the complainants performance.
3. By letter dated March 3, 1998, the respondents responded to the complainants request, denying access to the requested records, contending that all such records are exempt from the purview of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act pursuant to §10- 151c, G.S.; that records described in subparagraph 2d, above, do not exist; and that the records described in subparagraphs 2b and 2c, above, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(1), G.S. At the hearing in this matter and in their post-hearing brief, the respondents also contended that the records described in subparagraph 2a, above, are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-19(b)(1), G.S.
4. By letter dated March 6, 1998, and filed with the Commission on March 17, 1998, the complainant alleged that the respondents violated the FOI Act by denying her copies of the requested records.
5. 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 .
6. 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 .
7. With respect to the records described in subparagraph 2d, above, it is found that the Mastery test results maintained by the respondents do not contain a record indicating the identity of each students third grade teacher, and that in order to identify the results as requested by the complainant, the respondents would have to perform research.
8. It is also found that the FOI Act does not require public agencies to perform research for requesters. Ethan Book, Jr. v. Freedom of Information Commission, No. CV97-0567176 and Ethan Book, Jr. v. Freedom of Information Commission, No. CV97- 0566436, Super. Ct., Judicial District of Hartford/New Britain (McWeeny, J.) (January 28, 1998). Consequently, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act by failing to provide the complainant with the information requested in subparagraph 2d, above.
9. With respect to the records described in subparagraphs 2a, 2b, 2c, and 2e, above, the respondents contend that such records are exempt from the FOI Act pursuant to §10-151c, G.S., which provides that:
[a]ny records maintained or kept on file by any local or regional board of education which are records of teacher performance and evaluation shall not be deemed to be public records and shall not be subject to the provisions of section 1-19, provided that any teacher may consent in writing to the release of his records by a board of education. Such consent shall be required for each request for a release of such records. (Emphasis added.)
10. It is found that the records described in subparagraphs 2a, 2b, 2c, and 2e, above, are records of teacher performance and evaluation, and that, pursuant to §10-151c, G.S., such records are not public records, and are not subject to the disclosure provisions of §1-19, G.S. Accordingly, the Commission cannot conclude that the respondents violated the provisions of §1-19, G.S., nor can it order disclosure of the records described in subparagraphs 2a, 2b, 2c, and 2e, above, to the complainant.
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.
2. Although the Commission must dismiss this complaint, it also notes that the complainant is entitled to the records described in subparagraphs 2a, 2b, 2c, and 2e of the findings, above, pursuant to statute.
a) The unambiguous language of §10-151c, G.S., provides that teachers have the right to authorize release of records evaluating their performance. The complainant proved that she authorized release of the requested records to herself. Moreover, in enacting §10-151c, G.S., the legislature intended to preserve records of teacher performance and evaluation from unrestricted public access in the same manner as otherwise provided in §1-19(b)(2), G.S. Rose v. Freedom of Information Commission, 221 Conn. 217, 234 (1992). Section 1-19(b)(2), G.S., provides for the nondisclosure of personnel or medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy. Since it is axiomatic that an individual cannot invade her own privacy, §1-19(b)(2), G.S., does not work to exempt personnel records from review by the subject of those records.b) Additionally, §10-151a, G.S., clearly provides the complainant with access to, and, upon request, a copy of supervisory records and reports of competence, personal character and efficiency maintained in such employee's personnel file with reference to evaluation of performance as a professional employee of such board of education.c) Finally, §4-193(d), G.S., provides that agencies must make available to a person, upon written request, the personal data record related to such person which is maintained by such agencies. "Personal data" means any information about a person's education, finances, medical or emotional condition or history, employment or business history, family or personal relationships, reputation or character which because of name, identifying number, mark or description can be readily associated with a particular person. §4-190, G.S. Refusal of an agency to provide personal data to the data subject can result in an action for civil damages against the agency. §4-197, G.S.
3. Considering the complainants right to the records described in subparagraphs 2a, 2b, 2c and 2e of the findings, above, the respondents are hereby admonished for the waste of taxpayer funds necessitated by their refusal to comply with state law. In this regard, the Commission further notes that the respondents have often provided to other teachers the information described in subparagraph 2d of the findings, above. The respondents are therefore urged to release all of the records described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, in order that more taxpayer funds are not wasted in further efforts to deprive the complainant of the records to which she is otherwise entitled.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 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:
Cynthia Mazurek 116 Richard Avenue Wolcott, CT 06716
Superintendent, Wolcott Public Schools; and Board of Education, Wolcott Public Schools 154 Center Street Wolcott, CT 06716
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission