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Region 10 parent
wins FOI case
BY KARI BANACH
BURLINGTON — A parent who accused the Region 10 school district of breaking state freedom of information laws has won his case.
The state’s Freedom of Information Commission in a 50 vote on Wednesday sided with Harwinton resident Frederick A. Boland, deeming illegal longstanding district policies regarding access to public records.
According to the decision, Region 10’s rule that requires the public to make appointments and submit written requests to view public school documents violates FOI mandates. The panel also found that Assistant Superintendent Michael Landry unduly delayed Boland’s access to records, when state law requires public agencies to produce requested documents in a timely fashion.
No fines were levied, but the commission ordered Region 10 to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, a ruling that essentially forces officials to revoke the old policy and allow access to records in a prompt manner, said Tom Hennick, spokesman for the Freedom of Information Commission, on Thursday.
“Without (this ruling), authorities in the public sector would be able to abuse their power and not be held accountable,” Boland said Thursday. “I’m elated.”
Boland, an attorney, visited school offices on May 9 while doing research to support an outstanding grievance he has against the district.
That was when Landry denied his request to view the Region 10 Policies and Procedures Manual without a written request and appointment, the commission’s findings show.
Boland said Superintendent of Schools Paula Schwartz demanded the same; he filed the complaint with the state on May 24.
Landry said Region 10 required all members of thepublic to follow that protocol. Hennick said asking for a written request to view public documents is only lawful if the documents will be photocopied. Regardless, no advance appointment is needed.
Landry said Thursday he hadn’t seen the decision, and he didn’t know whether the district would appeal. “We didn’t know our policy was wrong. Obviously, we will do what we have to do to be in compliance,” he said.
Boland is the same parent who in June filed a letter of intent to sue Region 10 for $1 million on a related matter. Boland has alleged the administration violated his child’s civil rights after his son accessed pornography on a computer at Harwinton Consolidated School.
Boland claims the district has not provided a safe environment for public education because they haven’t done enough to stop bullying related to that incident. He also said the district violated his son’s privacy.