FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Sharon Wyatt, Barbara Major,

Sherry Pardy, and Nicole Dallas,

 
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2009-634
Superintendent of Schools, New
London Public Schools; and Board
of Education, New London Public
Schools, 
 
  Respondents October 13, 2010
       

 

            The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 21, 2010, at which time the complainants and respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts 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 respondents are public agencies, within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S.

 

            2.  It is found that, by email dated October 16, 2009, the complainants requested that the respondents provide them with copies of:

 

all documents, communications, emails, electronically stored, printed or handwritten materials pertaining to the school budget, as well as all information concerning the budget process including, but not limited to records used to calculate expenditures to build the budget.

 

            3.  It is found that, by letter dated October 19, 2009, the respondents acknowledged the request described in paragraph 2, above, and stated to the complainants: “Your request is so broad and the cost to replicate the requested information could be significant.  We therefore, ask that you please contact Attorney Richard O’Connor…to discuss the specifics of your request.”   The respondents provided the complainants with Attorney O’Connor’s telephone number. 

 

            4.  By email filed with the Commission on October 21, 2009, the complainants alleged that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by providing them with the response described in paragraph 3, above.  Specifically, the complainants alleged: “[w]e feel that their response is a non response.”

 

5.  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.

 

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

 

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. 

 

            7.  It is found that, to the extent the respondents maintain the records requested by the complainants, such records are public records within the meaning of 1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S., and must be disclosed, unless they are exempt from disclosure.

 

            8.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents acknowledged that all budgetary records which they maintain are subject to disclosure.  It is found that the respondents have provided many budgetary records to the complainants, including the entire New London Board of Education Proposed Budget 2010-2011, and several records organized by category of such budget. 

 

            9.  It is found that there is a breakdown of communication between the parties which has led to frustration on both sides.  For example, it was only at the hearing in this matter, that the complainants informed the respondents that they were seeking budgetary information for 2009-2010, not 2010-2011.  It is further found that when the complainants received 2010-2011 records from the respondents, they did not inform the respondents of the error. 

 

            10.  With respect to the specific complaint in this matter, it is found that the respondents’ letter to the complainants, set forth in paragraph 3, above, was reasonable. However, rather than respond to the letter and contact Mr. O’Connor, the complainants filed the complaint in this matter and never sought a dialogue with Mr. O’Connor.

 

            11.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents again pledged to provide the complainants with any budgetary records which they request.

 

            12.  Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act, as specifically 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 October 13, 2010.

 

 

__________________________

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:

 

Sharon Wyatt, Barbara Major,

Sherry Pardy, and Nicole Dallas

798 Ocean Avenue

New London, CT 06320

 

Superintendent of Schools, New

London Public Schools; and Board

of Education, New London Public

Schools

c/o Richard D. O’Connor, Esq.

Siegel, O’Connor, O’Donnell & Beck, PC

150 Trumbull Street

Hartford, CT 06103                                                                                                                                                                                                                

 

 

 

____________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2009-634FD/paj/10/13/2010