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Final Decision FIC2011-534
In the Matter of a Complaint by
Michael Richetelli,
Docket #FIC 2011-534
Jeanne Consiglio-Hoin, Chairperson,
Board of Education,
Orange Public Schools; and
Board of Education,
Orange Public Schools,
July 11, 2012

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 12, 2012, at which time the complainant and the 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.  By letter of complaint filed October 3, 2011, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by denying his September 7, 2011 request for public records.
     3.  It is found that the complainant asked the respondents for the visitor sign-in logs from the Orange Board of Education office and the four Orange Public Schools.
     4.  It is found that the respondents promptly provided the logs for the four schools, but with all names redacted. (No log exists for the respondents’ central office.)
     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 concluded that the four visitor sign-in logs are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5) and 1-210(a), G.S.
     8. It is found that the names on the sign-in logs are predominantly parents of children enrolled in the schools, or professionals attending PPT conferences, and that the complainant is not seeking those names.
     9. The respondent contends that the sign-in logs are exempt from disclosure pursuant to §1-210(b)(17), G.S., which provides that disclosure is not required of “Educational records which are not subject to disclosure under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act [“FERPA”], 20 USC 1232g ….”
     10.  Section 1232g(b)(1) of Title 20 provides that, with certain exceptions:
No funds shall be made available under any applicable program to any educational agency or institution which has a policy or practice of permitting the release of education records (or personally identifiable information contained therein other than directory information, as defined in paragraph (5) of subsection (a) of this section) of students without the written consent of their parents to any individual, agency, or organization ….
     11.  The regulation at 34 CFR §99.3 defines “personally identifiable information” to include, but not be limited to:
          a. The student’s name;
          b. The name of the student’s parent or other family member ….

     12.  The complainant does not contest the respondent’s redaction of the names of the student’s family members, but maintains that he is entitled to access to the other names on the logs.
     13. The respondents contend that it is not reasonable for them to redact the names of the parents of students, because of the amount of work involved, because certain visitors, such as vendors, do not sign in, and because the respondents have previously reviewed, redacted, and made voluminous records available to the complainant, only to have him decline to inspect them.
     14. It is found that the sign-in logs do not reflect whether the individual signing in is a parent or other visitor.
     15. It is found that, for the period of time requested by the complainant, the logs contain about 2,000 names.
     16. It is found that there is no easy way for the respondents to determine which of the many names on the logs are not those of parents. Indeed, it is entirely possible that all of the names on the logs are those of parents, and that requiring the respondents to attempt to determine the status of each individual on the list, and redact only the parents’ names, would result in the production of another list with all of the names once again redacted. To require the respondents to conduct such an exercise when the complainant has previously refused to review or collect records that have been prepared for him, would be unreasonable under the facts and circumstances of this case.
     17.  It is concluded that the respondents did not violate §§1-225(a) and 1-210(a), G.S., by providing the requested visitor sign-in logs with the names redacted.

     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
      1.  The complaint is dismissed.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 11, 2012.
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Michael Richetelli
435 Treat Lane
Orange, CT  06477
Jeanne Consiglio-Hoin,
Chairperson, Board of Education,
Orange Public Schools; and
Board of Education, Orange
Public Schools
c/o Henry J. Zaccardi, Esq. and
Richard A. Mills, Esq.
Shipman & Goodwin LLP
One Constitution Plaza
Hartford, CT  06103

Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission