From the New York State Committee on Open Government:
February 2, 2000
The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your
in your capacity as attorney for the Ellenville Central School District concerning a request
made under the Freedom of Information Law. Your question is: "Are the ratings of
‘satisfactory' or ‘unsatisfactory' given to teachers for classroom evaluations to be considered
‘final ratings', which have to be made available under FOIL, or are they opinions or perhaps
‘interim ratings' which do not have to be made available under FOIL." You added that the
evaluations and ratings at issue are not "annual reviews".
function of the ratings. The "annual reviews" to which you referred are not fully described.
However, it appears that the outcome of those reviews would represent the District's final
determination concerning an employee's performance. If that is so, and if the ratings
prepared based on classroom evaluations represent a preliminary element used later in
reaching a final determination concerning performance, I do not believe that there would be
an obligation to disclose.
access. Stated differently, all records of an agency are available, except to the extent that
records or portions thereof fall within one or more grounds for denial appearing in §87(2)(a)
through (i) of the Law.
withhold records that:
performed by the comptroller and the federal government..."
inter-agency or intra-agency materials may be withheld, portions of such materials consisting
of statistical or factual information, instructions to staff that affect the public, final agency
policy or determinations or external audits must be made available, unless a different ground
for denial could appropriately be asserted. Concurrently, those portions of inter-agency or
intra-agency materials that are reflective of opinion, advice, recommendation and the like
could in my view be withheld.
records apparently analogous to those requested may be withheld, stating that:
criticisms, evaluations, and recommendations prepared by the
school assistant principal regarding lesson preparation and
classroom performance. As such, these reports fall squarely
within the protection of Public Officers Law § 87(2)(g)"
[Elentuck v. Green, 202 AD2d 425, 608 NYS2d 701, 702
If the contents, nature or function of the records at issue are different or
distinguishable from the records considered in Elentuck, the result, in terms of the ability to
deny access, may also be different. If, however, they are indeed analogous to those found to
be deniable, I believe that the records may be withheld.