FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION

OF THE STATE OF CONECTICUT

 

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

 

Kathleen Edgecomb and The Day,

 

Complainants

 

against Docket #FIC 88‑264

 

Groton Board of Education,

 

Respondent November 30, 1988

 

The above‑captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 16, 1988, 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 a meeting on June 13, 1988, the agenda for which included the item "Executive Session . . . Personnel Matter."

 

3. At its June 13, 1988 meeting the respondent convened in executive session for the announced purposes of discussing both "a personnel matter" and the status of negotiations with school secretaries.

 

4. The minutes of the respondent's June 13, 1988 executive session state that while convened in executive session the respondent discussed an "administrative matter" and that no action was taken.

 

5. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on July 5, 1988 the complainants alleged that the respondent's June 13, 1988 discussion of an administrative matter in executive session violated the Freedom of Information Act because such purpose was neither announced prior to the executive session nor a proper purpose for an executive session.

 

6.     It is found that the "administrative matter" discussed during the respondent's June 13, 1988 executive session was the announcement, by the Groton superintendent of schools, of her intention to reassign elementary school principals. As of such date, none of the affected principals had been notified of the impending reassignments.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑264 Page Two

 

7. It is further found that the superintendent's announcement was followed by a few brief questions by members of the respondent, after which the subject was dropped.

 

8. On June 15, 1988 the superintendent of schools met with the president of the principals' union to announce her plan to reassign principals.

 

9. The respondent claims that the superintendent's announcement was not a "meeting" within the meaning of 1‑18a(b), G.S., but a report from the superintendent which could have as easily been submitted in letter form.

 

10. The respondent also claims that the matter of reassigning principals relates to collective bargaining and that the discussion in executive session was therefore not a meeting within the meaning of 1‑18a(b), G.S.

 

11. The respondent further claims that the executive session was otherwise properly held pursuant to 1‑18a(e)(1), G.S. for the discussion of personnel and pursuant to 1‑18a(e)(5), G.S. for the discussion of records exempted from disclosure by 1‑19(b)(1) and 1‑19(b)(9), G.S.

 

12. It is found that the assignment of principals is the direct responsibility of the superintendent of schools. However, it is the responsibility of the respondent to keep itself informed of the superintendent's actions. In fact, the superintendent's June 13, 1988 announcement was at least partly attributable to a specific request from the respondent for "more communication."

 

13. It is found that the June 13, 1988 executive session, as it related to the reassignment of principals, was a convening or assembly of a quorum of the respondent, a multimember public agency, to discuss, however briefly, a matter over which the respondent has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power within the meaning of 1‑18a(b), G.S.

 

14. It is further found that the superintendent's reassignment of principals is not subject to negotiation under the principals' collective bargaining agreement and that the executive session, as it related to the reassignment of principals, was not held to discuss strategy and negotiations with respect to collective bargaining within the meaning of 1‑18a(b), G.S.

 

15. It is concluded that the respondent's June 13, 1988 executive session, as it related to the reassignment of principals, was a "meeting" within the meaning of 1‑18a(b), G.S.

 

Docket #FIC 88‑264 Page Three

 

16. It is found that the June 13, 1988 executive session, as it related to the reassignment of principals, was held to discuss the policy of reassignments, not the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee within the meaning of 1‑18a(e)(1), G.S.

 

17. It is concluded that the June 13, 1988 executive session, as it related to the reassignment of principals, was not a proper pupose for an executive session within the meaning of 1‑18(e)(1), G.S.

 

18. It is found that the respondent failed to prove that a discussion, in public session, of the reassignment of principals would have resulted in the disclosure of records or information exempted from disclosure pursuant to 1‑19(b), G.S.

 

19. It is concluded that the respondent's June 13, 1988 executive session, as it related to the reassignment of principals, was not a proper purpose for an executive session within the meaning of 1‑18a(e)(5), G.S.

 

20. It is further concluded that the respondent's June 13, 1988 discussion, in executive session, of the superintendent's proposed reassignment of principals violated 1‑18a(e) and 1‑21(a), G.S.

 

21. It is found that neither the agenda of the June 13, 1988 meeting nor the announced purpose of the executive session gave meaningful notice to the public of the business to be conducted, in violation of 1‑21(a), G.S.

 

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 convene in executive session only for one or more of the proper purposes listed at 1‑18a(e), G.S.

 

2. The respondent henceforth shall state, in a meaningful way, the reason for any executive session, as required by 1‑21(a), G.S.

 

3. The respondent henceforth shall provide agendas of its regular meetings which provide meaningful notice to the public of the business to be conducted, in compliance with 1‑21(a), G.S.

 

Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its special meeting of November 30, 1988.

 

 

Catherine H. Lynch

Acting Clerk of the Commission