FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Jolene Kronen,
  Complainant  
  against Docket #FIC 2004-060

Board of Education,

New Fairfield Public Schools,

 
  Respondent  July 14, 2004
       

 

 

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 1, 2004, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1)(A), G.S.

 

2.  It is found that, at a meeting of the respondent Board on or about January 15, 2004, the complainant verbally requested records stating the training qualifications for Tom Dickau and Gina Williams. By email dated January 16, 2004, the complainant further requested: 1) minutes of the last two meetings of the respondent Board; 2) the current student handbook for the middle and high school; and 3) all sexual harassment complaints filed against the New Fairfield School since 1999, with investigation reports (all four items together being “the requested records”).

 

3.  It is found that at the meeting of the respondent Board on or about January 15, 2004, the superintendent of schools, Kathleen Matusiak (the “superintendent”), verbally denied complainant’s request for the training qualification records. By letter dated January 22, 2004, the superintendent forwarded the requested minutes and the handbooks to the complainant. She also indicated that the compilation of the complaints would take “more time”, but that the complainant would be notified when the compilation was completed.

 

4.  By letter dated and filed with the Freedom of Information Commission (“Commission”) on February 5, 2004, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) by failing to provide a complete set of the sexual harassment complaints and the requested training qualifications.

 

5.  It is found that on February 9, 2004, shortly after the complaint was filed, the respondent made redacted copies of the requested sexual harassment complaints available to the complainant, as she requested, at the superintendent’s office. Because the complainant was at Fort Campbell, Kentucky welcoming her son home from Iraq, she did not pick up the requested sexual harassment complaints from the superintendent’s office. The respondent subsequently sent them by certified mail, which the complainant accepted on March 9, 2004.

 

6.  It is found that the sexual harassment complaints were reasonably voluminous, and required considerable redaction, probably along with some legal review, in order to comply with applicable law. Complainant is not contesting the redactions. While there were apparently earlier requests for the sexual harassment complaints before January 16, 2004, such requests were not detailed at the hearing. There is therefore no evidentiary record for concluding that the respondent failed to make records subject to mandatory disclosure available promptly.

 

7.  It is found that the complainant believes that the respondent’s sexual harassment files are not complete as required by law, but this legal issue is beyond the jurisdiction of the Commission. The 1-210(a), G.S., requirement of “complete” disclosure is satisfied for the purposes of this case when all requested, non-exempt records in the custody and control of the respondent have been provided to the complainant.

 

8.  It is found that, at the time the complaint was filed, the respondent did not have any records in its custody and control detailing the training information for Gina Williams or Tom Dichau. The records detailing the training for both Gina Williams and Tom Dichau were created especially for the complainant, immediately prior to their transmission to her. At least in the case of Gina Williams, this process required reviewing old calendars to collect and date the various training sessions.

 

9.  It is also found that on February 9, 2004, shortly after the complaint was filed, an employee of respondent sent an email to complainant detailing the training for Gina Williams. By letter dated April 6, 2004, the superintendent forwarded the training information for Tom Dickau to the complainant.

 

10. It is found, in sum, that three of the four requested records were provided promptly to the complainant and the fourth request was satisfied by the creation of two additional records that was not required by the FOIA.

 

11. It is concluded that there was no denial of the right to copies of records subject to mandatory disclosure in violation of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

 

            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 July 14, 2004.

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

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:

 

Jolene Kronen

9 Brush Hill Road, #343

New Fairfield, CT  06812

 

Board of Education,

New Fairfield Public Schools

c/o Daniel P. Murphy, Esq.

Siegel, O’Connor, Zangari,

O’Donnell and Beck, PC

150 Trumbull Street

Hartford, CT  06103

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2004-060/FD/abg/07/15/2004