FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|Linda and Myron Osyf,|
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-132|
|Principal, Vernon Center
Vernon Public Schools; and Vernon Center
Middle Schools, Vernon Public Schools,
|Respondents||October 28, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 19, 1998, 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(1), G. S.
2. It is found that Vernon Center Middle School (VCMS) has a program called the Vernon Bermuda Workshop which is a course in sub-tropical island ecology held in Bermuda at the Bermuda Biological Station for Research. Students must submit an application to be considered and are selected to participate in the program by a committee of teachers and guidance personnel on the basis of citizenship, science interest, academic proficiency and written and oral interviews. For each criteria a student may be given a certain number of points up to the maximum assigned to that criteria. The points received are totaled and those students with the highest totals are selected to participate in the program. The directors of the workshop are Mr. Brooks, a teacher at VCMS, and Mr. Argenta, a teacher at the Rockville High School in Vernon.
3. It is found that the complainants son submitted an application and was considered pursuant to the criteria set forth in paragraph 2, above, but was not selected to participate.
4. It is found that the complainants met on March 26, 1998, and April 8, 1998, with the respondent principal and the two directors to discuss the programs selection process and how their son was evaluated in the selection process with the expectation of reviewing documentation of the same.
5. By letter dated May 2, 1998, and received on May 8, 1998, the complainants appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by denying them access to any and all information related to the program at the March 26, 1998, meeting and by denying them access to any and all original data regarding the selection process relative to their son at the April 8, 1998, meeting.
6. Section 1-19(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintain or kept on file by any public agency . . . shall be public records and every person shall have the right to . . . receive a copy of such records in accordance with the provisions of section 1-15.
7. It is found that the records described in paragraph 5, above, are public records within the meaning of §1-18a(5), G.S.
8. It is found that the complainants and Mr. Brooks had several telephone conversations in an attempt to schedule the March 26, 1998, meeting and that the complainants made no request to review or to receive a copy of any documents during any of those telephone conversations.
9. It is found that neither the respondent principle nor the two directors were aware that the complainants wanted to or expected to review any documents pertaining to their sons evaluation at the March 26, 1998, meeting.
10. It is found that at the March 26, 1998, meeting the complainants requested to review their sons file which they believed existed because in a prior conversation with Mr. Brooks, there was some mention of a file pertaining to their son and the selection process.
11. It is found that at the March 26, 1998, meeting Mr. Argenta informed the complainants that there was no file but simply a spread sheet which listed all of the applicants names and the points awarded to them in each criteria, that their sons information was just one line on the page, and that he did not bring a copy of the spread sheet to the meeting.
12. It is found that the April 8, 1998, meeting was scheduled between the respondents and the complainants at which the complainants would be provided with records pertaining to their sons evaluation in the selection process.
13. It is found that at the April 8, 1998, meeting the respondents provided the complainants with a copy of a print-out which was a one page document with the complainants sons name and rank at the top, a listing of the criteria used, the maximum points that could be earned and the points their son actually earned.
14. It is found that Mr. Argenta explained to the complainants that the document was generated from the spread sheet he discussed with the complainants at the March 26, 1998, meeting which was a computer program capable of producing documents such as the one described in paragraph 13, above, and that the data on the spread sheet was in- putted by him from the recommendations of the science teachers and the scores received on the oral and written interviews.
15. It is found that at the April 8, 1998, meeting the complainants requested to see the original data from which the document described in paragraph 13, above, was generated.
16. It is found that the respondents did not have the original data with them and it was agreed that the documents would be left at the main office of the VCMS at a later time for the complainants to pick up.
17. It is found that on April 13, 1998, the complainants received the original data they requested which included two redacted copies of teacher recommendations with only the complainants sons information revealed.
18. It is found that the respondents promptly complied with the complainants requests made on March 26, 1998, and April 8, 1998, for documents.
19. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate §1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainants with access to the requested information at the March 26, 1998, and the April 8, 1998, meetings.
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. The Commission strongly encourages the respondents to implement measures which ensure more open and forth coming communications with the parents of the students of its school.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 28, 1998.
_________________________ Melanie R. Balfour 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:
Linda and Myron Osyf 10 Knollwood Drive Vernon, CT 06066
Principal, Vernon Center Middle School, Vernon Public Schools; and Vernon Center Middle Schools, Vernon Public Schools c/o Atty. Robert J. Percy Siegel, OConnor, Schiff & Zangari, PC 150 Trumbull Street Hartford, CT 06103
__________________________ Melanie R. Balfour Acting Clerk of the Commission