FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Halina Trelski,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2007-097

Board of Education,

Middletown Public Schools,

 
  Respondent September 12, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 30, 2007, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. For purposes of hearing, this matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2007-098, Halina Trelski v. Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools; Docket #FIC 2007-118, Halina Trelski v. Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools; Docket #FIC 2007-119, Halina Trelski v. Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools; and Docket #FIC 2007-138, Halina Trelski v. Policy Committee, Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools.

 

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, by letter dated January 10, 2007 and received by the respondent on the same day, the complainant made a written request for certified copies of:

 

a.  “Regulation 1312(a) and (b) valid November 30, 2006” and

 

b. “Regulation 1312(a) and (b) valid today, January 10, 2007.”

 

3.      By letter dated February 9, 2007 and filed February 13, 2007, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondent’s failure to provide the requested records violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act.

 

4.      Section 1-200(5) G.S., defines “public records or files” as:

 

Any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, … whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.

 

5.   Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that: 

 

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 . . .  receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.

 

6.      Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain or certified copy of any public record.”

 

7.      It is found that the respondent maintains the document described in paragraph 2.a, above, although the respondent rescinded its effectiveness on January 9, 2007.

 

8.      It is found that the record described in paragraph 2.a, above, is a public record within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.

 

9.      It is found that the respondent offered to provide a certified copy of the record described in paragraph 2.a, above, to the complainant for the first time on April 18, 2007.

 

10.   It is found that the respondent’s proposed method of certification was to attach to the record a letter from the respondent to the complainant certifying that the record was a true copy of the document described in paragraph 2a, above.

 

11.   It is found that the complainant refused to accept the record certified in the manner described in paragraph 10, above, because it would not be certified in the manner she preferred.

 

12.   It is found that the complainant finally received a copy of the record from the respondent on May 17, 2007.  It is further found that the copy of the record was sent as an enclosure to a letter dated May 17, 2007, in which the respondent certified that the document was a true copy of the document requested.

 

13.   The word “certified” is not defined in the FOI Act, and the requirements for providing a “certified copy of a public record” pursuant to 1-212(a), G.S., are not contained in the FOI Act.

 

14.    It is concluded that the FOI Act does not set forth requirements for the form or content of such certifications. See Docket #FIC 2004-445, Misty Williams and Dawn Massey v. Town of Branford et al. (Sept. 14, 2005).

 

15.    The American Heritage Dictionary, Fourth Edition (2000) defines to “certify” as “to confirm formally as true, accurate, or genuine.”

 

16.    It is concluded that the respondent provided the complainant with a certified copy of the record requested described in paragraph 2.a, above.

 

17.    At the hearing in this matter, the respondent’s witness testified that the complainant’s confusing, numerous, and frequent requests for documents from the respondent impeded the respondent’s ability to comply more promptly with the complainant’s request for records in this matter.

 

18.    At the hearing in this matter, however, the respondent failed to explain sufficiently how the complainant’s request for a single existing regulation of the respondent was a confusing request sufficient to justify a three-month delay in compliance.

 

19.   Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondent violated the FOI Act by failing promptly to provide the record, described in paragraph 2.a, above, in certified form to the complainant.

 

20.   With respect to the record described in paragraph 2.b., above, the respondent’s witness testified at the hearing in this matter that the record does not exist.

 

21.   Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act with respect to the record described in paragraph 2.b, above.

 

 

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

 

1.   Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the promptness provisions of 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.

 

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of September 12, 2007.

 

 

 

_______________________________

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:

 

Halina Trelski

49 Summer Hill Road

Middletown, CT 06457

 

Board of Education,

Middletown Public Schools

c/o Rebecca R. Santiago, Esq.

Shipman & Goodwin LLP

One Constitution Plaza

Hartford, CT 06103-1919

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2007-097FD/paj/9/19/2007