FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Anthony E. Flint and the Register Citizen,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 87-52

 

Torrington Board of Councilmen and Torrington Board of Education,

 

Respondents October 14, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 2, 1987, at which time the complainants and the respondents 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 boards are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. By letter filed February 26, 1987, the complainant alleged that the respondents held three illegal closed meetings between February 2, and February 19, 1987.

 

3. The respondent board of councilmen contended that the discussions in question were exempt from disclosure as "strategy and negotiations with respect to collective bargaining," which is excluded from the definition of meeting set forth at 1-18a(b), G.S.

 

4. Prior to the meetings which are at issue in this complaint, three contracts with teachers and administrators had been negotiated. These were filed with the town clerk on January 23, 1987.

 

5. The contracts were discussed at the closed meetings in February.

 

6. If the respondent board of councilmen did not reject the contracts within the thirty day period after they were filed with the clerk, they would become valid and binding.

 

Docket #FIC 87-52 page 2

 

7. If the contracts were rejected, the parties to the contracts would be subject to compulsory arbitration.

 

8. On February 19, 1987, after a closed meeting, the respondent board of councilmen voted to accept the agreement between the respondent board of education and the Torrington Education Association for the school years 1987-88, and 1988-89.

 

9. At the same meeting, the respondent board of councilmen voted to reject the agreement between the respondent board of education and the Torrington Administrators Association for the school year 1987-88.

 

10. At each meeting the respondent went into executive session to discuss variously "labor negotiations, and strategy with respect to collective bargaining," or to hold a "non-meeting."

 

11. It is found that because the negotiations were completed when the contracts were filed with the town clerk on January 23, 1987, the executive sessions were not meetings to discuss strategy and negotiations with respect to collective bargaining.

 

12. It is concluded that the meetings in question were not exempt from the open meeting requirements of 1-21, G.S.

 

13. It is found that the only participation by the respondent board of education occurred at the meetings of February 2 and 17, 1987, when a few members of the board of education attended.

 

14. It is found that the meetings in question were not meetings of the respondent board of education.

 

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

 

1. The complaint is dismissed as to the respondent board of education.

 

2. The respondent board of councilmen shall henceforth comply with the open meeting requirements of 1-21, G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 14, 1987.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission