FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision

 

Lynne Royce, Edward Frede and The Danbury News-Times

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 87-160

 

Board of Education of the City of Danbury

 

Respondent September 9, 1987

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 13, 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 board is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.

 

2. On May 12, 1987, the respondent board held a special meeting to interview candidates and to select one of them, pursuant to 10-219, G.S., to fill a vacancy on the respondent board until the next election.

 

3. One of the five candidates to fill the vacancy was recommended by the town committee of a political party and the others offered themselves as candidates.

 

4. As part of the May 12, 1987 meeting, the respondent board first held candidate interviews in public session, then discussed the candidates in an executive session and finally voted in public session the candidate who would fill the vacancy.

 

5. By letter dated May 29, 1987, and filed with the Commission on June 1, 1987, the complainants alleged that the respondent board violated the Freedom of Information Act at its May 12, 1987 meeting by:

 

a. failing to vote in public session to convene in executive session and to set forth the purpose for the executive session, in accordance with 1-21(a), G.S.;

 

Docket #FIC 87-160 Page 2

 

b. failing to afford the candidates the opportunity, under 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., to request that any discussion of their candidacies be held in public session; and

 

c. holding the executive session for a purpose not permitted under 1-18a(e), G.S.

 

6. The respondent board denies the allegations described in paragraph 5, above, and claims that the executive session was permitted under 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.

 

7. It is found that during the initial public portion of the meeting in question, the respondent board voted to convene in executive session in accordance with 1-21(a), G.S.

 

8. It is found, however, that the respondent board failed to prove that it afforded four of the five candidates the opportunity, under 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., to request that any discussion of their candidacies be held in public session.

 

9. It further is found that the respondent board's May 12, 1987 executive session was not held to appoint a public officer or employee, or for any other permitted purpose, within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., but rather to fill a vacancy in office on the respondent board, which office, under ordinary circumstances, is an elective one.

 

10. It therefore is concluded that the discussion of the candidacies to fill the vacancy on the respondent board during the respondent board's May 12, 1987 executive session did not constitute a permissible purpose for an executive session within the meaning of 1-18a(e)(1), G.S.

 

11. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondent board violated 1-21(a) and 1-18a(e), G.S., with respect to its May 12, 1987 meeting.

 

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

 

1. Henceforth the respondent shall act in strict conformity with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S., by convening in executive session only for a purpose permitted specifically under 1-18a(e), G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 9, 1987.

 

 

Hilde Mayranen

Acting Clerk of the Commission