Final Decision FIC2015-168
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Joseph J. Bango and
Connecticut Kids First,
||Docket #FIC 2015-168|
Superintendent of Schools,
Cheshire Public Schools; and
Cheshire Public Schools,
October 28, 2015
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 15, 2015, 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 letter dated January 22, 2015, the complainants made a written
request to the respondents for the following:
[a] A list of all student bullying incidents from January 2005 through January 15th 2015 [;]
[b] A list of all incidents of school violence threats from January 2005 through January 15th 2015 [;]
[c] A list of any 911 calls regarding school violence threats from January 2005 through January 15th 2015 [;]
[d] Communications between [the] central office and individual schools regarding bullying and/or threats of violence to staff and/or students [;]
[e] A report of any police response to any Cheshire School from January 2010 through January 15th 2013 [;]
[f] Copies of all contracts for paving and sidewalk work performed at Cheshire Schools, in particular, Doolittle, Norton, and Cheshire High School, which transpired in 2014 [; and]
[g] A copy of budget expenditures during fiscal 2014.
3. It is found that, by letter dated February 25, 2015, the complainants inquired of the respondents as to the status of their January 22nd request, described in paragraph 2, above, and renewed such request.
4. It is found that, by letter dated February 26, 2015, the respondent Superintendent of Schools provided the complainants with documents responsive to the requests described in paragraphs 2[a], 2[f] and 2[g], above. It is also found that the respondent Superintendent informed the complainants that the respondents did not keep records relating to the information requested in paragraphs 2[b], 2[c], 2[d] and 2[e], above, and that they were not required to create records that they did not already hold in their possession.
5. By email dated March 5, 2015, the complainants appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide the complainants with copies of the records, described in paragraph 2, above. At the hearing in this matter, the complainant Joseph Bango testified that the requests described in paragraphs 2[f] and 2[g], above, were no longer at issue, and therefore, such requests shall not be further addressed herein.
6. 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, 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.”
9. It is found that the records requested by the complainants, to the extent that they exist, are public records and must be disclosed in accordance with §§1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
10. It is found that the respondents provided the complainants with a document labelled “Verified Acts of Bullying Log” which is responsive to the complainants’ request described in paragraph 2[a], above. It is found that such log indicated the number of bullying incidents from 2009 to January 2015 and already existed at the time of the complainants’ request. It is found that the respondents did not maintain a log that indicated the number of bullying incidents between 2005 and 2009. Further, while the complainant Mr. Bango contended at the hearing that the log provided to the complainant by the respondents failed to account for certain incidents of bullying involving Mr. Bango’s child, it is found that the accuracy of the information in the log 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 found that the requests described in paragraphs 2[b] and 2[c], above, would require the respondents to create records. It is found that the FOI Act does not require public agencies to create records in response to a request.
12. With respect to the complainants’ request described in paragraph 2[d], above, the Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services and District Safe School Climate Coordinator for the Cheshire Public Schools, testified, on behalf of the respondents, that he performed a search for communications between the central office and individual schools. He testified that in addition to searching his own files, he contacted the staff at the central office and building principals, and neither he nor the central office staff or school principals located any records responsive to the complainants’ request described in paragraph 2[d], above. It is found that the respondents do not maintain records responsive to the request described in paragraph 2[d], above.
13. With respect to the complainants’ request described in paragraph 2[e], above, the complainant Mr. Bango maintained that the respondents should have had copies of such records, including records of an incident involving his child. It is found, however, that based on credible testimony provided by the respondents, they did not maintain any records responsive to the request described in paragraph 2[e], above.
14. It is therefore found that the respondents provided the complainant with all documents that the respondents maintained and kept on file at the time of the complainants’ request that were responsive to such request. Accordingly, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as 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 28, 2015.
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:
Joseph J. Bango and Connecticut Kids First
171 Cornwall Avenue
Cheshire, CT 06410
Superintendent of Schools, Cheshire Public Schools; and
Cheshire Public Schools
c/o Rebecca Goldberg, Esq.
Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.
75 Broad Street
Milford, CT 06460
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission