FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Gregory H. Seay and The Hartford Courant,  
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2004-508

Chairman, Board of Education, Portland

Public Schools,

 
  Respondent April 13, 2005
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 10, 2005, at which time the complainants appeared and presented testimony and argument on the complaint, however, the respondent failed to appear.  The Commission’s records reflect that notice of the March 10, 2005 hearing in this matter was delivered by certified mail, and signed as received by the respondent on February 8, 2005.   

           

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.

 

2.  By letter of complaint dated and filed on November 8, 2004, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by denying them a copy of a teacher contract that was unanimously ratified at a meeting of the Board of Education of the Portland Public Schools (“board”) held on November 3, 2004 (hereinafter “requested record”). 

 

3.  It is found that on November 3, 2004, the board held a meeting, immediately following which the complainants requested that the respondent provide them with a copy of the requested record.  It is found that the respondent denied the request at that time, but indicated that a copy of the requested record would be filed with the town clerk the next day.

 

 4.  It is found that on or about November 5, 2004, the complainants, after inquiring of the town clerk on November 4, 2004, whether the requested record was available, were informed by the Superintendent of Schools that such record was being proofed, and that a clean version was not yet available. 

 

5.  Thereafter, the complainants filed this appeal.

 

6.  It is found that approximately ten days following the complainants’ initial November 3, 2004 request, the respondent provided the complainants with a copy of the requested record.

 

7.  Consequently, the issue to be addressed is whether the respondent complied with the promptness provision of 1-210(a), G.S., set forth below.

 

8.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:

 

“Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public's business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

 

9.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., further provides:

 

Except 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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212….

 

10.  It is concluded that the requested record is a public record within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

 

11.  It is further concluded that the respondent failed to prove that any federal law or state statute permitted the withholding of the requested record for ten days and further, failed to prove that by providing the requested record ten days after the request such provision of access was prompt within the meaning of 1-210(a), G.S.

 

12.  It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-210(a), G.S., by withholding the requested record from the complainants for a period of ten days and failing to promptly provide the complainants with a copy of such record.

 

 

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

1.  Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the promptness provision of 1-210(a), G.S.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of April 13, 2005.

 

________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

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:

 

Gregory H. Seay and

The Hartford Courant

373 East Main Street

Middletown, CT 06457

 

Chairman, Board of Education,

Portland Public Schools

33 East Main Street

Portland, CT 06480

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2004-508FD/paj/4/15/2005