FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Corinne Kelly and Support Our Schools,

 

Complainants,

 

against Docket #FIC 87-9

 

Board of Education of the Town of Stonington,

 

Respondent May 13, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on March 3, 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. The respondent held meetings on December 15, 1986 and January 5, 1987. At both these meetings the respondent went into executive session.

 

3. The notice and minutes of the December 15, 1986 meeting state the reason for the meeting as "personnel." The minutes also state the reason for the executive session as "personnel."

 

4. The January 5, 1987 meeting was called as an emergency meeting and its minutes state the purpose was "to review recent correspondence from the Stonington Education Association regarding negotiations and to discuss negotiations strategy."

 

5. Among other things, at the January 5, 1987 meeting the respondent decided it would respond to a letter to the editor of an area newspaper.

 

6. The complainants appealed to the Commission by letter of complaint dated January 10, 1987 and filed with the Commission on January 14, 1987.

 

Docket #FIC 87-9 Page Two

 

7. At the hearing on the matter, the respondent conceded that it had done the actions complained of and that these were in violation of 1-21(a), G.S. These actions included:

 

a. failing to clearly state the business to be transacted in the notice and minutes of the December 15, 1986 meeting;

 

b. failing to vote to go into executive session before doing so at the December 15, 1986 meeting;

 

c. failing to clearly state the reason for the executive session in the minutes of the December 15, 1986 meeting and to state a permitted purpose for executive session listed in 1-18a(e);

 

d. failing to adequately set forth the nature of the emergency requiring the January 5, 1987 meeting;

 

e. holding an emergency meeting on January 5, 1987 for a non-emergency purpose;

 

f. and transacting business at the January 5, 1987 meeting that was not included in the stated purpose of the meeting.

 

8. It is found that, although the respondent is aware of the above violations, it does not yet fully understand its responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act.

 

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

 

1. The respondent henceforth shall act in strict compliance with 1-21(a), G.S.

 

2. The respondent shall schedule an educational workshop to be led by a Commission staff attorney and to take place within 60 days of the notice of final decision in this case. The respondent shall make every effort to have all its members attend the workshop and shall specifically invite the complainants.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 13, 1987.

 

Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission