In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION


Dorothy M. O'Farrell and Joseph A. O'Farrell,




against Docket #FIC 87-124


East Lyme Superintendent of Schools and East Lyme Board of Education,


Respondents August 12, 1987


The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 8, 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.


2. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on April 24, 1987 the complainants alleged that the respondents improperly convened in executive session during meetings held "from September 1986 through March 1987" to discuss the reorganization of the East Lyme school system.


3. With respect to the meetings held from September 1986 through February 1987, it is found that more than 30 days have elapsed between the date of these meetings and the filing of the complaint with the Commission .


4. It is therefore concluded that pursuant to 1-21i(b), G.S., the Commission lacks jurisdiction to hear the complaint as it pertains to those meeting dates. Consequently, the only portion of the complaint that will be treated herein is the respondent board of education's meeting of March 24, 1987.


Docket #FIC 87-124 Page 2


5. It is found that the respondent board of education held a public hearing on March 24, 1987 on the reorganization plan of the East Lyme school system.


6. It is further found that subsequent to the public hearing, the respondent board of education discussed and voted in public session on the creation and the elimination of certain administrative positions.


7. It is also found that during the March 24, 1987 meeting the respondent board of education did convene in executive session. However, the stated purpose for the executive session was the discussion of the respondent superintendent's mid-year performance evaluation.


8. The complainants agree that the purpose stated in paragragh 7, above, for the executive session is unrelated to their complaint. However, the complainants maintain that the respondent board of education should have alloted more time for public hearing concerning the reorganization plan of the East Lyme school system and should have also placed a notice of its meeting in the newspaper.


9. It is found, however, that there are no provisions under the Freedom of Information Act governing the conduct of public hearings nor is there a requirement that a public agency publish notices of its meetings in a newspaper.


10. It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the Freedom of Information Act with respect to their discussing and voting on matters concerning the reorganization plan of the East Lyme school system.


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


1. The complaint is hereby dismissed.


Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 12, 1987.



Catherine I. Hostetter

Acting Clerk of the Commission