FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Deborah Maynard,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-023
Superintendent, Voluntown School District;
and Principal, Voluntown Elementary School,
Voluntown School District
Respondents August 12, 1998
	The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 17, 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 was 
modified to correctly identify the respondents.
	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.  It is found that on January 9, 1998 an incident occurred on a school bus during 
which the complainant alleges that her daughter, a student on the bus, was verbally 
abused, spat at and hit in the head by other students (“the incident”).
	3.  By letter dated January 15, 1998 the complainant requested that the 
respondents provide her with certain records pertaining to an investigation of the incident, 
including a video tape of the incident and several reports.
	4.  Having failed to receive a copy of the requested records, the complainant 
appealed to the Commission by letter dated January 23, 1998 and filed with the 
Commission on January 26, 1998, and supplemented by letter dated February 19, 1998 
filed with the commission on February 26, 1998, alleging that the respondents violated 
the Freedom of Information Act by denying her a copy of the requested records.  In her 
February 19, 1998 letter the complainant requested that the commission impose a civil 
penalty upon the respondents.
	5.  It is found that by letter dated February 10, 1998 the complainant renewed her 
records request to the respondents.  The February 10, 1998 request was for a copy of the 
following records pertaining to the incident:
i)  video tape of the school bus incident;
ii)  bus driver’s report;
iii)  bus coordinator’s report;
iv)  Mary Chinago’s investigation report;
v)  disciplinary action/ punishment imposed in connection 
with the incident;
vi)  report sent to Geddis family; and
vii)  letter sent to “NFA” students that the respondent 
superintendent distributed.
	6.  It is found that the respondents have some records that are responsive to the 
complainant’s requests described in paragraphs 3 and 5, above.
	7.  Section 1-18a(5), G.S., defines public records or files as “[a]ny recorded data 
or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, 
received or retained by a public agency, whether such data or information be handwritten, 
typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other 
method.”
	8.  Section 1-19(a), G.S., further 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.  Any agency rule or regulation, 
or part thereof, that conflicts with the provisions of this 
subsection or diminishes or curtails in any way the rights 
granted by this subsection shall be void.
	9.  It is concluded that the complainant’s requests described in paragraphs 3 and 5, 
above, constitute requests for public records within the meaning of 1-18a(5) and 1-
19(a), G.S.
	10.  It is found that by letter dated February 19, 1998, the respondent 
superintendent provided the complainant with all the records the respondents have that are 
responsive to her requests, with the exception of a video tape and a letter.
	11.  It is also found that the respondent superintendent permitted the complainant 
access to inspect the video tape, but has denied her a copy.
	12.  The respondents contend that the video tape and letter, described in paragraph 
10, above, are educational records exempt from disclosure pursuant to the Family 
Educational Rights and Privacy Act specifically, they cite 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(1)(A) and 
(B).  The respondents further claim that that the video tape and letter are exempt from 
disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), 1-19(b)(11), and 10-15b, G.S.
	13.  20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(1)(A) provides:
No funds shall be made available under any applicable 
program to any educational agency or institution which has 
a policy of denying, or which effectively prevents, the 
parents of students who are or have been in attendance at a 
school of such agency or at such institution, as the case 
may be, the right to inspect and review the education 
records of their children.  If any material or document in the 
education record of a student includes information on more 
than one student, the parents of one of such students shall 
have the right to inspect and review only such part of such 
material or document as relates to such student or to be 
informed of the specific information contained in such part 
of such material.  Each educational agency or institution 
shall establish appropriate procedures for the granting of a 
request by parents for access to the education records of 
their children within a reasonable period of time, but in no 
case more than forty-five days after the request has been 
made.
	14.  20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(1)(B) provides:
No funds under any applicable program shall be made 
available to any State educational agency (whether or not 
that agency is an educational agency or institution under 
this section) that has a policy of denying, or which 
effectively prevents, the parents of students the right to 
inspect and review the education records maintained by the 
State educational agency on their children who are or have 
been in attendance at any school of an educational agency 
or institution that is subject to the provisions of this section.
	15.  Following the hearing in this matter, the video tape and letter were reviewed 
in camera.
	16.  “Educational records” are defined at 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(4)(A) as those 
records, files, documents, and other materials which (i)  contain information directly 
related to a student and (ii)  are maintained by an educational agency or institution or by a 
person acting for such agency or institution.
	17.  It is found that the video tape and letter are educational records within the 
meaning of 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(4)(A) and (B).
	18.  It is also found that 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(4)(A) and (B) require disclosure of 
educational records to the parents of students, and nothing in those provisions prohibit the 
respondents from providing a copy of the video tape and letter to the complainant.
	19.  Consequently, it is concluded that the video tape and letter are records subject 
to disclosure pursuant to 20 U.S.C. 1232g(a)(1)(A), 1232g(a)(1)(B) and 1-19(a), G.S.
	20.  With respect to the respondents’ claim of exemption pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), 
G.S., such provision permits the nondisclosure of “[p]ersonnel or medical files and 
similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy.”
	21.  It is found that the video tape contains a record of what occurred on the 
school bus on the day of the incident, and the letter is from the respondents to the parents 
of a student concerning the incident.
	22.  It is also found that the video tape and letter are not “personnel or medical 
files and similar files” within the meaning of 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
	23.  Further, in determining whether the 1-19(b)(2), G.S., personal privacy 
exemption is applicable, the appropriate test is that set forth in Perkins v. Freedom of 
Information Commission, 228 Conn. 158, 175 (1993).  The test requires that two 
elements be met: first, that the information sought does not pertain to legitimate matters 
of public concern, and second, that such information is highly offensive to a reasonable 
person.
	24.  It is found that the information contained in the video tape and letter pertains 
to legitimate matters of public concern.
	25.  It is also found that the information contained in the video tape and letter is 
not highly offensive to a reasonable person.
	26.  It is therefore, concluded that the video tape and letter are not exempt from 
disclosure pursuant to 1-19(b)(2), G.S.
	27.  With respect to the respondents’ claim of exemption pursuant to 10-15b, 
G.S., such provision provides, in relevant part:
(a) Either parent or legal guardian of a minor student shall, 
upon written request to a local or regional board of 
education and within a reasonable time, be entitled to 
knowledge of and access to all educational, medical, or 
similar records maintained in such student's cumulative 
record, except that no parent or legal guardian shall be 
entitled to information considered privileged under section 
10-154a.
	28.  Section 10-154a(b), G.S., precludes the disclosure of any information 
acquired through a “professional communication” with a student, when such information 
concerns alcohol or drug abuse or any alcoholic or drug problem of such student except 
that physical evidence from the student, but not the student’s name, indicating that a 
crime has been or is being committed by such student is required to be turned over to 
school administrators or law enforcement officials.
	29.  It is found that the video tape and letter do not constitute information 
concerning “alcohol or drug abuse or any alcoholic or drug problem” communicated by a 
student within the meaning of 10-154a(b), G.S.
	30.  It is therefore, concluded that nothing in 10-15b and 10-154a(b), G.S. 
precludes the disclosure of the video tape and letter to the complainant.
	31.  It is further concluded that the respondents violated 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), 
G.S., when they failed to provide the complainant with a copy of the video tape and letter.
	32.  It is found however, that the letter contains the name and address of a student 
who is not the complainant’s child.
	33.  Section 1-19(b)(11), G.S., permits the nondisclosure of names or addresses 
of students enrolled in any public school if the parent has not consented.
	34.  Consequently, the student’s name and address, described in paragraph 32, 
above, may be redacted in accordance with 1-19(b)(11), G.S.
	35.  The Commission in its discretion declines to impose a civil penalty in this 
case.
	The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of 
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
	1.  Forthwith, the respondents shall provide the complainant with a copy of the 
video tape and letter.  The respondents may redact the name and address of the student, 
described in paragraphs 32 and 34 of the findings, above, prior to providing the 
complainant with a copy of the letter.
	2.  Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the disclosure 
requirements of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.
 
 
 
	Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular 
meeting of August 12, 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:
Deborah Maynard
179 Conydon Road
Voluntown, CT 06384
Superintendent, Voluntown School District; and Principal, Voluntown Elementary 
School, Voluntown School District
c/o Atty. Frederick L. Dorsey
171 Orange Street
New Haven, CT 06510


__________________________
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission




FIC1998-023/FD/tcg/08181998