Final Decision FIC2015-608
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2015-608|
State of Connecticut, Office of Audit,
Compliance and Ethics, University of
Connecticut; and State of Connecticut,
University of Connecticut,
February 24, 2016
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on December 28, 2015, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. The matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2015-304, Liz Vitullo, Office of Audit, Compliance and Ethics, State of Connecticut, University of Connecticut; and State of Connecticut, University of Connecticut.
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 on August 31, 2015, and on several dates thereafter, the complainant requested information related to his unsuccessful applications for admission to the University of Connecticut School of Law in 2012 and 2013. It is found that the complainant sought records containing demographic information of applicants and records concerning his application. The complainant also sought explanations about the demographic composition of the applicant pool and about the respondents’ denial of his applications for admission.
3. By letter filed September 15, 2015, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by failing to provide him with copies of all of the records he requested.
4. 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, …whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
5. 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, … or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212.
6. Section 1-212(a), G.S., provides in relevant part: “Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record.
7. It is found that all the records requested by the complainants are public records within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a), and 1-212(a), G.S.
8. With respect to the complainant’s requests for explanations, the Commission understands the complainant’s frustration with trying to ascertain the respondents’ criteria for admission; for example, the complainant asked the respondents to “explain in detail the ‘holistic’ style of evaluating applications that [the School of Law] advertises on its website.” It is concluded, however, that the FOI Act does not require agencies to perform research or answer questions in response to requests.
9. With respect to the complainant’s requests for copies of records, it is found that the respondents provided all responsive records that they maintain. It is found that the respondents provided much of the demographic data that the complainant sought, as well as his applications for admission to the School of Law with accompanying comments of members of the admissions committee and correspondence relating to his applications.
10. It is also found that some of the complainant’s requests were illegible due to poor penmanship, and the respondents contacted the complainant to ask him to submit the requests again, written legibly. It is found that the complainant did not do so prior to the hearing in this matter.
11. 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 February 24, 2016.
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:
25 Lincoln Avenue
Norwich, CT 06360
State of Connecticut, Office of Audit, Compliance and Ethics,
University of Connecticut; and State of Connecticut,
University of Connecticut
c/o Holly J. Bray, Esq.
Office of the Attorney General
343 Mansfield Road
Storrs, CT 06269-1177
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission