FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Heather Vogell and The Day,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-249
Superintendent of Schools, Waterford
Public Schools; and Board of Education,
Waterford Public Schools,
Respondents May 12, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 26, 1999, at which time the complainants and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Prior to the hearing in this matter, Michelle Stallworth and Waterford Federation of Teachers, Local 2038, CFEPE, AFT, AFL-CIO requested and were granted party status.

        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 1-200(1), G.S. [formerly 1-18a(1), G.S.]

        2. By letter dated August 6, 1998, the complainants requested that the respondents provide them with a copy of the grievance filed by Michelle Stallworth (hereinafter "the grievance").

        3. By letter dated August 11, 1998, the respondents denied the request described in paragraph 2, above.

        4. By letter dated and filed August 14, 1998, the complainants appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by denying them access to the grievance.

        5. It is found that the grievance is a public record within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-18a(5) and 1-19(a), G.S.]

        6. Section 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.], provides in relevant part:

[e]xcept as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained 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….

        7. The respondents submitted the grievance to the Commission for in-camera inspection, which  records have been designated by the Commission as in-camera document #s 1998-249-A through 1998-249-G, inclusive.

        8. It is found that the records designated as in-camera document #s 1998-249-A through 1998-249-G, inclusive, as described in paragraph 7, above, consist of the grievance, which is in-camera document # 1998-249-A, and an attached 6 page teacher evaluation form.

        9. At the hearing in this matter, the complainants contended that they do not seek the teacher evaluation form described in paragraph 8, above. Accordingly, the complaint in this matter is limited to the grievance, in-camera document # 1998-249-A.

        10. The respondents contend that lines 24 through 30 of the grievance is exempt from mandatory disclosure by virtue of 10-151c, G.S.

        11. Section 10-151c, G.S., in relevant part 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 [ 1-210, formerly] 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. For the purposes of this section the term "teacher" shall include each certified professional employee below the rank of superintendent employed by a board of education in a position requiring a certificate issued by the State Board of Education.

        12. It is found that Michelle Stallworth is a teacher within the meaning of 10-151c, G.S., and that she objects to the disclosure of the grievance. It is further found that lines 24 through 30 of in-camera document # 1998-249-A contain direct quotations from the teacher evaluation form described in paragraph 8, above.

        13. However, it is also found that the grievance, in-camera document # 1998-249-A, is essentially a complaint authored by Michelle Stallworth. It is further found that, in such context, the grievance, in-camera document # 1998-249-A, does not constitute a record of teacher performance and evaluation within the meaning of 10-151c, G.S.

        14. It is therefore concluded that the respondents violated 1-210, G.S. [formerly 1-19, G.S.], by denying the complainants a copy of the grievance.

 

        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 provide the complainants with a copy of the grievance described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, at no cost.

        2.. Henceforth the respondents shall strictly comply with the disclosure provisions of 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 1-19(a), G.S.]

 

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 12, 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:

 

Heather Vogell and The Day
PO Box 1231
New London, CT 06320-1231
Superintendent of Schools,
Waterford Public Schools;
and Board of Education,
Waterford Public Schools
c/o Atty. Thomas N. Sullivan
Sullivan, Schoen, Campane &
Connon, LLC
646 Prospect Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105-4286
and
Michelle Stallworth
c/o Atty. Tricia Jessica Johnson
and Atty. Jonathan G. Cohen
Two Congress Street
PO Box 230454
Hartford, CT 06123
and
Waterford Federation of Teachers,
Local 2038, CFEPE, AFT, AFL-CIO
c/o Atty. Brian A. Doyle
Ferguson & Doyle, PC
35 Marshall Road
Rocky Hill, CT 06067

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-249FD/mrb/05181999