Schober v. Tyler
The word "promptly" as used in C.G.S. §1-210(a), means quickly and without undue delay, taking into consideration all factors presented by a particular request. George Schober appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that Janet Tyler, Lebanon Public Schools' superintendent and Lebanon's Board of Education, violated the Freedom of Information Act including by failing to fairly apprise the public of the business to be transacted at a special board meeting and failing to promptly comply with his Aug. 12, 2011 request to inspect public records. The agenda stated "VIII Executive Session 1. Update from legal counsel." The respondents conceded that the agenda item failed to fairly and sufficiently apprise the public of the business to be transacted. The respondents violated the notice provisions of C.G.S. §1-225(d) and were directed to strictly comply, henceforth, with those provisions. When the complainant went to inspect the requested 15 categories of records on Sept. 6, 2011, only two categories were compiled. His request for a two page copy was refused. At the hearing, outstanding records concerned a request for all email and correspondence relating to any board matter sent or received by board members, Tyler, and others for a certain period. Testimony indicated that the responsive records numbered over 200,000. The FOIC considered that the respondents received the complainant's request on Aug. 15, 2011 when many employees were vacationing. The following week was the week before school and staff was consumed with student registration, teacher orientation and parent inquiries. A hurricane hit on Aug. 27, 2011 and schools had to be prepared for shelter use. The respondents' offices lacked power until Friday, Sept. 2, 2011. School opened on Sept. 5, 2011. The FOIC found unforeseeable obstacles prevented full compliance with the request by Sept. 6, 2011. The request was voluminous, broad and included records for which exemptions applied. Time was required to review and redact those records. Under the circumstances, the respondents did not unduly delay compliance with the inspection request. The respondents violated the disclosure provisions of C.G.S. §1-210(a) and §1-212(a) by not promptly complying with the copy request. The superintendent issued instructions to obtain a copy list anticipating a voluminous request.