In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Tim Quinson, Mark DelVecchio and the Register Citizen,




against Docket #FIC 86-351


Town of Winchester School Building Committee,


Respondent March 11, 1987


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 28, 1987, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.


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


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


2. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on December 23, 1987, the complainants alleged that the respondent convened improperly in executive session during its December 4, 1986 meeting, to discuss appointing an architect to design plans for a proposed $4.8 million renovation of the town's elementary school.


3. At the hearing before the Commission, the complainants and the respondent agreed that on December 4, 1986, the respondent convened in executive session for the stated purpose of "discussing the employment of an architect."


4. At the hearing, the respondent stated that the purpose of the executive session was to discuss the credentials and reference checks received for the three architects being considered for the school project. The respondent further stated that it had a "moral and ethical obligation" to protect the testimony and opinion provided by previous employers.


Docket #FIC 86-351 Page 2


5. The respondent claims that such a purpose constitutes a personnel matter as defined by 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.


6. It is found that the respondent failed to prove that the three architects discussed in executive session at the meeting in question are public officers or employees within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.


7. It is found that the respondent's vote to convene in executive session to discuss contracted services and the qualifications of the independent contractors was not a permissible purpose for an executive session within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.


8. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-21, G.S.


9. At the hearing, the respondent provided the complainants with a copy of the reference checks concerning the three architects that were discussed in executive session at the meeting in question.


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 only for the specific purposes set forth in 1-18a(e), G.S.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 11, 1987.


Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission