FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Tracy Arthur Marlow,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-141
Richard Edmonds, Director,
State of Connecticut, Department
of Public Health; and State of
Connecticut, Department of Public Health,
Respondents January 13, 1999

 
        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 6, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondents 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 by letter dated April 1, 1998, the complainant requested that the respondent director provide him with a copy of the following records (hereinafter "requested records"):

a. an unredacted copy of exhibit B produced at the hearing in contested case docket #FIC1997-296, Tracy A. Marlow v. State of Connecticut, Department of Public Health ("FIC 1997-296");

b. in connection with the respondent department’s December 15, 1997 brief in FIC 1997-296 "the information regarding the complaint substantiated by DCF" and "information from the listing concerning the complaint substantiated by the Department of Children and Families";

c. unredacted copies of records provided to the complainant by letter dated December 12, 1997;

d. entire page four of the eight page April 12, 1995 letter;

e. intake and complaint/incident response in connection with July 10, 1995 complaint;

f. records relating to December 12, 1996;

g. records in connection with the respondent department’s April 22, 1997 letter indicating that "the complaint regarding your child’s immunization status has been resolved";

h. Child Care Center of Stamford’s ("CCC") response received by the respondent department in August 1995;

i. records of contact or communication between the respondent department and Department of Children and Families in connection with the complainant’s July 10, 1995 and July 11, 1997 letters alleging abuse and/or neglect against CCC; and

j. the listing created by the respondent department in connection with Public Act 97-259, 9.

        3. Having failed to receive the requested records, the complainant, by letter dated April 14, 1998 and filed on April 15, 1998, and supplemented by letter dated April 30, 1998 and filed on May 11, 1998, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying him a copy of the requested records. The complainant requested that the Commission impose a civil penalty against the respondents.

        4. It is found that by letter dated April 15, 1998, the respondents’ communications office acknowledged receipt of the complainant’s request, and advised him that there would be a delay in processing such request, and that he could contact them for additional information or assistance with questions.

        5. It is found that the respondents maintain records that are responsive to the complainant’s request as described in paragraph 2, above, and such records are public records within the meaning of 1-18a(5) and 1-19(a), G.S.

        6. It is found that by letter dated July 20, 1998, the respondents provided the complainant with some of the requested records.

        7. At the hearing on this matter the complainant indicated to the Commission that the requested records as described in paragraph 2c, 2d, 2e, 2f, 2g and 2h, above, are no longer at issue in this complaint.

        8. Consequently, the records that remain at issue are those as described in paragraph 2a, 2b, 2i and 2j, above.

        9. With respect to the request as described in paragraph 2a, above, the Commission takes administrative notice of exhibit B and the Final Decision in FIC 1997-296.

        10. In Fic 1997-296, the Commission found that exhibit B consisted of complaint records, which the respondent had minimally redacted, prior to providing the complainant with a copy of such records by letter dated September 30, 1997. (Final Decision FIC 1997-296, Finding 6).

        11. In the present case, the complainant requested, and the Commission reviewed in camera, an unredacted copy of exhibit B to determine whether he is entitled to such unredacted copy.

        12. It is found that the respondents appropriately redacted the identity of the person making the report or complaint pursuant to 19a-87a(d), G.S., and the identities of children and parents involved. The Commission again, as was indicated in FIC 1997-296, declines to order the disclosure of the identities of the children and parents involved. (Final Decision FIC 1997-296, Finding 18).

        13. It is also found that the following redactions do not fall within any of the exemptions claimed by the respondents under 1-19(a), G.S; 17a-101k, G.S., as amended by P.A. 97-319, 16; 19-87a(d), G.S. and P. A. 97-259, 9:

a. the redaction on page 17 of exhibit B, specifically, the section described as "Others notified by complainant"; and

b. the redactions on page 18 of exhibit B, specifically contained in the section dealing with "Complainant’s Description".

        14. With respect to the request as described in paragraph 2b and 2j, above, it is found that the records being requested by the complainant is that which is described by the respondents as a "listing".

        15. It is found that by letter dated July 20, 1998 the respondents provided the complainant with information that the respondents characterize as a "listing" within the meaning of P.A. 97-259, 9, which provision provides in relevant part: "[T]he Commissioner of Public Health shall compile a listing of the information and of complaints received and substantiated by the Department of Public Health concerning a licensed day care facility during the prior three-year period."

        16. Essentially, the complainant contends that the information provided to him by the respondents on July 20, 1998 is not a "listing" within the meaning of P.A. 97-259, 9.

        17. It is found that the respondents provided the complainant with the "listing" they have, and the determination of whether such "listing" meets the criteria or is sufficient within the meaning of P.A. 97-259, 9, is outside of the purview of this Commission’s jurisdiction.

        18. With respect to the request as described in paragraph 2i, above, it is found that the respondents have not provided the complainant with records of an unsubstantiated complaint of child abuse and neglect. The Commission reviewed such records in camera. They have been designated IC#1998-141-31 through IC#1998-141-44, inclusive, for identification purpose.

        19. It is found that IC#1998-141-31 through IC#1998-141-44, inclusive, are identical to in camera records IC#1997-296-26 through IC#1997-296-39, inclusive, which the Commission ordered disclosed in FIC 1997-296, with redactions to: the name of the person making the report or complaint and the identities of children and parents.

        20. The Commission therefore, will not address the same issue once again, and incorporates herein, the findings and order in FIC 1997-296 that address IC#1997-296-26 through IC#1997-296-39, inclusive.

        21. With respect to the timeliness of the respondents’ July 20, 1998 provision of access to the complainant, it is concluded that the respondents violated 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to promptly provide the complainant with the records they eventually provided to him by letter dated July 20, 1998.

        22. It is further found that the three and a half month delay in providing the complainant with access to the records was without reasonable grounds.

        The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

        1. The respondents shall forthwith remit to this Commission a civil penalty in the amount of $50.00.

        2. With respect to the request as described in paragraph 2a, of the findings, above, the respondents shall forthwith provide the complainant with a copy of page 17 of exhibit B indicating the information redacted at the section "Others notified by complainant", and a copy of page 18 of exhibit B indicating the information redacted in the section "Complainant’s Description".

        3. Henceforth, the respondents shall comply with the promptness requirement of 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S.

 

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 13, 1999.

 

 

_________________________

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:

 

Tracy Arthur Marlow

600 Hollow Tree Ridge Road

Darien, CT 06820

Richard Edmonds, Director,

State of Connecticut, Department

of Public Health; and State of

Connecticut, Department of

Public Health

c/o Atty. Peter L. Brown

Assistant Attorney General

55 Elm Street, PO Box 120

Hartford, CT 06141-0120

 

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-141FD/mrb01141999