School must turn over records of argument between teacher and student
CONNECTICUT — A school’s records of a 1991 argument between a teacher and student are not exempt from disclosure as personnel files, the Superior Court in Hartford ruled in late June.
The teacher brought the lawsuit against the state’s Freedom of Information Commission. The commission ordered the school to release the documents to the mother of the student involved.
The teacher, Paul Almeida, was cleared of any wrongdoing in an investigation ordered by the principal of Killingly Intermediate School.
The superior court upheld the commission’s ruling that the official school records were not exempt as “personnel files or similar files.” The content of the records and the way they were maintained indicated that the files were not exempt.
The court upheld the commission’s ruling that there was nothing potentially embarrassing to the teacher in the records and he did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The court distinguished the records from personnel files because the records were kept “in a locked box,” separate from the school’s personnel files.
The court rejected the teacher’s argument that any official school records that pertain to an incident involving a particular school employee are personnel files.
The teachers union has appealed the superior court’s decision.
(Almeida v. Freedom of Information Comm’n.; FOIC Counsel: Catherine Wassel-Nasto, Hartford)