Final Decision FIC2013-328
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2013-328|
Superintendent of Schools, Brookfield
Public Schools; Director of Finance,
Brookfield Public Schools; and Brookfield
April 9, 2014
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 8, 2013 and January 6, 2014, at which times the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. After the hearing on this matter, the respondents filed a motion to strike the complainant’s post hearing brief and a motion to strike the complainant’s post hearing submissions. The Hearing Officer and the Commission state for the record that they did not consider any post-hearing evidence in this case. Therefore, the Commission denies both motions to strike.
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 letter delivered to the respondents on April 24, 2013, the complainant requested that the respondents permit him to review the following records:
a. "[d]ocuments, information and materials relating to the budget item Conference/Travel ([the complainant believes] is account #580) paid out of the Board of Education budget for the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 budgets and the anticipated 2013-2014 budget;" and
b. "[d]ocuments, information and materials relating to the budget item Extended Duty ([the complainant believes] is account #118) paid out of the Board of Education budget for the 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and the 2012-2013 budgets and the anticipated 2013-2014 budget."
(hereinafter the "requested records").
3. It is found that, by email dated April 24, 2013, the respondent director of finance acknowledged the complainant’s request and asked the complainant to manually adjust the date stamp on his copy of the request from April 23, 2013 to April 24, 2013, to reflect the correct date the complainant delivered his request.
4. By letter of complaint filed May 29, 2013, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide all of the records described in paragraph 2, above.
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 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 (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours . . . (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.
7. Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.”
8. It is concluded that the records requested by the complainant are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
9. It is found and the respondent director credibly testified that the complainant’s April 24, 2013 request was made to the director during a particularly busy time of year as being the Brookfield’s Board of Education’s budget season. It is also found that, during the period of June 2013 through October 2013, the respondents provided the complainant with access to and copies of all of the requested records reasonably responsive to the complainant’s April 24, 2013 request described in paragraph 2, above. It is further found that after the complainant was permitted to inspect and copy responsive records on various occasions, the complainant questioned the respondent director about discrepancies in some of the reimbursement figures the complainant discovered while reviewing responsive records. It is concluded that, despite the scheduling conflicts attributed to both the complainant and the respondents, the respondents’ provision of the requested records was reasonably prompt under the circumstances.
10. While the complainant contended at the second hearing on this matter that the respondents failed to answer questions related to discrepancies between figures contained in certain responsive records provided to him by the respondents, it is concluded that the respondents are not required to answer questions under the FOI Act. It is also found that the accuracy of the information contained in the copies of the records provided to the complainant in this matter is not within the Commission’s purview. See FIC #2000-261, Dante DeLoreto v. Chief of Police, Police Department, Town of Wethersfield.
11. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., as alleged in the complaint and with respect to their failure to answer all questions asked by the complainant related to the responsive records.
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 April 9, 2014.
Cynthia A. Cannata
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:
32 Great Heron Lane
Brookfield, CT 06804
Superintendent of Schools, Brookfield Public Schools;
Director of Finance, Brookfield Public Schools;
and Brookfield Public Schools
c/o Daniel P. Murphy, Esq.
Kaimen, Escalera & McHale, P.C.
21 Oak Street
Hartford, CT 06106
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission