In the Matter of a Request
    for Advisory Opinion





)     Advisory Opinion   #26



Honorable Joseph Walkovich, Vice Chairman, Government Administration and Policy Committee, 1977 General Assembly, Applicant

)     March 21, 1977








On March 21, 1977, the Commission considered and granted the request for an advisory ruling from Representative Joseph Walkovich, 109th District, acting in behalf of the Joint Committee on Government Administration and Policy of the 1977 General Assembly.


Specifically, the applicant asks whether a board of education may meet in executive session to discuss the special education or disciplinary problems of individually identified students.


By granting this request the Commission does not intend to foreclose its future consideration of any matter relating to this subject that may properly be determined by it under 1-21i, General Statutes, as a contested case.


The term "executive sessions" is defined in 1-18a (e), General Statutes, as "a meeting of a public agency at which the public is excluded for one or more of the following purposes...." One such purpose given in subdivision (5) of the aforesaid section is the "discussion of any matter which would result in the disclosure of public records or the information contained therein described in subsection (b) of section 1-19." 1-19 (b) (1), General Statutes, in pertinent part, exempts from public disclosure "personnel or medical files and similar files the disclosure of which would constitute an invasion of personal privacy...."(Emphasis added).



In the absence of evidence to the contrary, a school system's records concerning the special education or disciplinary problems of individually identified students may reasonably be found to fall within the above-cited class of "similar files" which the General Assembly intended to exempt from public disclosure.


Therefore, reading 1-19 (b) (1) with 1-18a (e) (5), the Commission concludes that to the extent that the contents of special education or disciplinary records of individually identified students are the subject of the discussion of a board of education, the board may reasonably find it appropriate to convene in executive session under the procedural requirements established in 1-21 and 1-21g, General Statutes.


The language of f 1-18a (e) (5) and 1-19 (b) (1) was designed to apply to circumstances such as herein described in order to prevent the unwarranted invasion of personal privacy by the disclosure of information that neither directly nor substantially relates to the conduct of the public's business within the meaning of 1-18 (d) and Chapter 55 of the General Statutes.





                                                                                            By Order of the Freedom of
                                                                                            Information Commission


                                                                                            Herbert Brucker, Chairman of
                                                                                            of the Freedom of Information

Date ___March 21, 1977___



Louis J. Tapogna, Clerk