The New Hampshire Supreme Court reversed a superior court judge’s ruling and held that rubrics used to score candidates for the position of superintendent are exempt from disclosure as internal personnel practices.
The plaintiff, Jeffrey Clay, requested copies of scoring rubrics used to assess candidates for the Dover Superintendent position. The City produced a blank copy of the rubric, but would not produce the completed rubrics for the candidates, on the basis that they were “records pertaining to internal personnel practices” under RSA 91-A:5, IV. These rubrics contained numerical scores applied to the candidates by members of the search committee, and some rubrics also contained additional written notes regarding the candidates’ qualifications.
Clay filed a petition in superior court for, among other things, release of the completed scoring sheets. The trial judge ultimately ordered that the scoring sheets be released because they did not qualify as records whose “disclosure would constitute an invasion of privacy” or as “records pertaining to internal personnel practices.”
The New Hampshire Supreme Court relied primarily on its recent ruling in Reid v. New Hampshire Attorney General, in which the Court determined that, for records to qualify as internal personnel practices, they must both fit with the definition of “personnel” and “internal.” The rubrics here are “personnel” because they relate to hiring, which is a personnel and human resources function. The rubrics were also “internal” because they were filled out by members of the search committee, on behalf of the school board, which is the entity that employs the superintendent.
Practice Pointer: Based on this decision, records that are integral to the internal hiring process are exempt as “records pertaining to internal personnel practices” under RSA 91-A:5, IV.