In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


John O. Bailey, Josh Kovner and The Jackson Newspapers,




against Docket #FIC 86-101


West Haven Board of Education,


Respondent June 3, 1986


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 1, 1986, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.


After consideration of the entire matter, the following facts are found:


1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. On April 1, 1986 the respondent held a meeting during which it convened in executive session to discuss "budget strategy."


3. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on April 14, 1986 the complainants alleged that the respondent lacked a proper purpose for its April 1, 1986 executive session and asked that decisions made during such executive session be declared null and void.


4. It is found that while convened in executive session on April 1, 1986 the respondent discussed proposed cuts in the amount of $350,000 in the 1986-87 education budget, which cuts might have resulted in the elimination of nineteen positions. The respondent claims that such discussion was properly held in executive session to avoid alarming individuals whose jobs might have been affected by the proposed cuts.


5.     No actions were taken during or as a result of the April 1, 1986 executive session. As of the date of hearing, no positions had been eliminated.


Docket #FIC 86-101 Page Two


6. It is found that discussion of budget cuts which might result in the elimination of indeterminate positions does not concern the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.


7. It is also found that the April 1, 1986 discussion of budget cuts did not otherwise constitute a proper purpose for an executive session as such purposes are defined at 1-18a(e), G.S.


8. It is concluded that, although convened in good faith, the respondent's April 1, 1986 executive session to discuss proposed budget cuts violated 1-21(a) and 1-18a(e), G.S.


The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.


1. The respondent shall henceforth convene in executive session pursuant to 1-18a(e)(1), G.S. only for the purpose of discussing the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a specifically-identifiable employee or employees and only after first providing such employee or employees with the opportunity to require that such discussion be held at an open meeting.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 28, 1986.


Karen J. Haggett

Clerk of the Commission