In the Matter of a Complaint by


Merry Stewart,







Docket #FIC 1999-180

Joan Parker, Director of Special Education,
John Read Middle School, Redding Public




December 22, 1999







The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 27, 1999, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The case caption has been amended to reflect the correct affiliation of the respondent.

After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:


1.  The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of §1-200(1), G.S. [formerly §1-18a(1), G.S.]


2.  By letter dated March 12, 1999, the complainant requested that the respondent provide her with an opportunity to review all records related to her son, a child under eighteen years of age, including records of the respondent, all teachers, the nurse, other administrators, and the main office, including handwritten notes, letters and minutes of meetings (hereinafter “the records”).  The complainant asked that the respondent reply in writing with a time when the records would be available and that she be given ample opportunity to review such records.


3.  By letter dated March 14, 1999, the respondent replied, suggested two dates in March, informed the complainant that if such dates were not convenient, a different time could be arranged, and that the respondent would arrange for all records to be available in her office on the determined date.


4.  By letter dated March 17, 1999, the complainant replied, stating that March 22 at 1:00 P.M. would be a good date, but that she wished to review the records at the John Read Middle School (hereinafter “the school”), rather than the office of the respondent, which is located in a separate building.  The complainant stated that she wished to review the records at the school so that, if she believed a record was missing, either the respondent or another school employee could then retrieve it for her.  The complainant informed the respondent that she would need a full day to review the records, despite the fact that the complainant had suggested a start time of 1:00 P.M.


5.  By letter dated March 19, 1999, the respondent informed the complainant that the records would be available for review in her office but that she would only be available for one hour on March 22, 1999.  


6.  By letter dated March 19, 1999, the complainant again wrote to the respondent, stating that she wished to review the records at the school, which is where she believed they were usually kept.  By such letter, the complainant also chose March 23, 1999, at 1:00 P.M. to review the records at the school, and stated that, if she did not receive a written denial beforehand, she would arrive at the school at such time and expect the respondent to meet her there. 


7.  By letter faxed and dated March 22, 1999, the respondent’s attorney informed the complainant’s attorney that the complainant’s daily faxes and communications were harassing Redding school officials, and that the respondent had offered review times totaling five hours over three occasions, which would likely have been sufficient, considering the fact that a complete copy of the records had been provided to the complainant’s attorney prior to the events recited herein.  By such letter, the complainant’s attorney was informed that the complainant should not go to the school on March 23 at 1:00 P.M., since the records and the respondent would not be there.  


8.  By facsimile dated March 23, 1999, the respondent’s attorney informed the complainant’s attorney that the respondent would be available with the records in her office from 1:00 P.M. to 3:00 P.M on such date.  


9.   By letter dated March 23, 1999, the complainant requested that the respondent provide her with copies of the records, free of charge.


10.  By letter dated April 10, 1999, and filed April 14, 1999, the complainant alleged that the respondent violated the FOI Act by failing to provide her with copies of the records free of charge and by failing to provide access to the records on March 23, 1999, at the school.  The complainant requested that the respondent be assessed the maximum civil penalty in this matter.


            11.  Section 1-210(a), G.S. [formerly 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 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 1-212….


12.  Section 1-212(a), G.S. [formerly section 1-15(a), G.S.], provides in relevant part: 

[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 Freedom of Information Act: …shall not exceed fifty cents per page….


13.  The complainant contends that, pursuant to the State of Connecticut Department of Education Procedural Safeguards in Public Education (hereinafter “the safeguards”), she is entitled to a free copy of the records. 


14.  It is concluded that the Commission has no jurisdiction to enforce the safeguards, although it is found that the complainant’s attorney was provided with a free copy of the records prior to the events outlined herein. 


15.  Since the FOI Act allows the respondent to assess a fee not exceeding fifty cents per page for copies of public records, it is concluded that the complainant is not entitled to a free copy of the records under such Act.


16.  It is found that, on March 23, 1999 at 1:00 P.M., the complainant arrived at the school with her husband, seeking access to the records.  It is also found that the complainant’s husband telephoned the respondent and demanded that she arrive at the school with the records.  It is further found that, at such time, the respondent invited the complainant and her husband to her office to review the records but the complainant refused such offer. 


17.   It is found that the actions of the respondent in this matter were reasonable under the facts and circumstances of this case, and it is therefore concluded that she did not violate the FOI Act as alleged in the complaint.

 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. 





Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of

December 22, 1999.




Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission







Merry Stewart

PO Box 735

West Redding, CT  06896


Joan Parker, Director of Special Education, John Read Middle School, Redding Public


c/o Atty. Warren L. Holcomb

Berchem, Moses & Devlin, PC

75 Broad Street

Milford, CT  06460












Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission