The Freedom of Information Commission (the “Commission”) recently addressed an issue concerning the confidentiality of records related to a school district’s teacher evaluation process. In Treat-Perry v. East Haddam Public Schools, FIC 2014-034, the Commission addressed a complaint involving the denial of the complainant’s request for raw data from the student and parent SEED (System for Educator Evaluation and Development) survey for the school district’s schools.

Upon receipt of this request, the school district responded that the requested records were exempt from disclosure pursuant to CGS §10 -151c. Specifically, this statute provides that “any records maintained or kept on file by…any local or regional board of education that are records of teacher performance and evaluation shall not be deemed to be public records and shall not be subject to the provisions of section 1-210….”

The school district’s teacher evaluation program was modeled after the Connecticut Department of Education’s SEED program, which evaluates teachers based on student growth and development, observation of teacher performance and practice, parent feedback and student feedback. The Commission found that the surveys “are in integral part of the respondents’ Evaluation Program, which is the process by which teachers are evaluated….” As a result of this finding, the Commission also held that the SEED surveys are “records of teacher performance and evaluation within the meaning of §10 -151c, and that therefore such records are not subject to the mandatory disclosure provisions of §1-200(a).

This ruling provides needed clarification as to the confidentiality of parent and student surveys that are used as part of the teacher evaluation process, and represents a broad view of what records might properly be considered as confidential as “teacher performance and evaluation” records pursuant to CGS §10-151c.