City not required to turn over data on students’ parents
CONNECTICUT–A Hartford Superior Court decided in early January that the city’s board of education is not required to disclose the names and addresses of parents of Hartford school children.
The superior court held that state law exempts the parents’ records from public disclosure. The court held that disclosure of parents’ records would inevitably lead to the disclosure of prohibited student information. The court added that revelation of the students’ names or addresses would be “virtually a natural consequence of the disclosure of their parents’ names and addresses.”
The court also rejected a plan requiring the board to ask each student or parent/guardian if he or she consents and then, where consent is obtained, disclose the information. It pointed out that the state open records statute does not impose any such regulation on the board.
The plan had been proposed by the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, which decided that although a federal statute makes nondisclosure of personal information about students a condition of the grant of federal education funds to the state, the potential loss of such funding does not constitute a legal bar on the disclosure of the records by the board. The board of education appealed the commission’s ruling.
The case arose in August 1995, when Renae Reese of Citizens for Better Schools wrote to the Hartford school board, requesting the names, addresses and phone numbers of the parents of all the students in the Hartford Public School System.
The board denied her request, noting that state law exempts disclosure of public records that are required to be kept confidential under a federal law. Reese then filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission. (Hartford Board of Education v. Freedom of Information Commission; FOIC Counsel: Victor Perpetua, Hartford)