FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Margaret Miner and Voices,
against Docket #FIC 89-458
Board of Education for Regional School District #12,
Respondent July 25, 1990
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 16, 1990, at which time the complainants and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. This case was consolidated for hearing with Docket ##'s FIC 89-449, 89-450, 89-451, 89-460 and 89-464.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint filed with the Commission on December 8, 1989, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent held an unnoticed meeting, that she was denied access to a memorandum from the superintendant to the respondent, that a committee of the respondent held an unnoticed meeting, and that the respondent's meeting agenda were too vague.
The Respondent's Meeting:
3. It is found that at the respondent's November 13, 1989, regular meeting, one member read aloud a document that essentially was a list of problems the respondent had with one of its members, who was a member of the board at that time.
4. It is found that the respondent's chairman created the document, after discussing its subject matter in individual conversations either by telephone or in person with at least seven of the respondent's members.
5. It is found that the respondent has thirteen members.
6. Thus it is found that the chairman discussed the subject matter of the document with a quorum of the respondent.
Docket #FIC 89-458 Page Two
7. It is also found that the subject matter of the document is one over which the respondent has supervisory and advisory power.
8. It is concluded, therefore, that the chairman's discussions with a quorum of the respondent about the subject matter of the document amounted to a meeting as defined by 1-18a(b), G.S.
9. It is further found that the respondent did not create, file or otherwise make available a notice, agenda or minutes for this meeting and that public access to it was, therefore, impossible.
10. Thus it is concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by holding a meeting without providing a notice, agenda, minutes or public access.
11. It is found that sometime after the respondent's November 13, 1989, regular meeting the complainant requested that the respondent's superintendent provide her with a copy of a memorandum sent from the superintendent to the respondent's members.
12. The respondent claims the memorandum is privileged by the attorney-client relationship and exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(10), G.S.
13. At the hearing on this matter, the hearing officer ordered the memorandum in question be provided to the Commission for in camera review.
14. It is found that the memorandum is a single page, attached to which is another page that is a copy of 10-232, G.S.
15. It is found that, with the exception of one sentence, the memorandum expresses the superintendent's ideas on how to handle the tabling of a motion that was before the respondent and his personal views about a particular job candidate.
16. It is found that none of this information is privileged by the attorney-client relationship.
17. It is found that the first sentence of the third paragraph refers to the opinion of the respondent's attorney on a legal question asked by the superintendent at the respondent's chairman's request.
Docket #FIC 89-458 Page Three
18. It is found that the superintendent asked this question, on the respondent's behalf, in confidence and that the answer standing alone discloses the question.
19. It is concluded that the question contains information given by the respondent to its attorney in confidence.
20. Thus it is concluded that the first sentence of the memorandum's third paragraph is exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(10), G.S.
21. It is further concluded that the rest of the memorandum is not exempt from disclosure under 1-19(b)(10), G.S.
22. It is also concluded that the respondent violated 1-15 and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of the memorandum, with the exception of the first sentence of the third paragraph.
The Committee Meeting:
23. It is found that three members of the respondent make up the respondent's Policies and Bylaws Committee.
24. It is found that at the November 13, 1989, regular meeting of the full board, a member of the committee reported on several changes to the respondent's policies and by-laws.
25. It is found that on a Saturday morning before November 13, 1989, two members of the committee had met to discuss certain personnel matters in a publicly noticed special meeting of the committee.
26. It is found, however, that the third member of the committee was never notified individually of this meeting.
27. It is found that the discussion veered into policy matters and the two committee members present decided to do some editorial work on the existing written policies and by-laws and then present their changes to the full board.
28. It is found that two members constitute a quorum of the committee.
29. It is found that the respondent's policies and by-laws are a matter over which this committee has advisory power.
30. Thus it is concluded that the two committee members' policy discussion and editing was part of a meeting within the definition of 1-18a(b), G.S.
Docket #FIC 89-458 Page Four
31. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent's committee violated 1-21(a), G.S., by having a special meeting without individually notifying all committee members and by taking up a non-agenda item at that meeting.
33. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant did not pursue her allegation about the respondent's agenda.
The following order of the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the complete record in the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent henceforth shall act in strict compliance with 1-15, 1-19(a), and 1-21(a), G.S.
2. The respondent's members shall attend an educational workshop to be led by a Commission staff attorney within sixty days of the mailing of the notice of final decision in this case.
3. The respondent shall invite to attend the workshop, in writing, all administrative employees and officers of the towns comprising Regional School District #12.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 25, 1990.
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 89-458 Page Five
PURSUANT TO SECTION 4-180(c), G.S. THE FOLLOWING ARE THE NAMES OF EACH PARTY AND THE MOST RECENT MAILING ADDRESS, PROVIDED TO THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION, OF THE PARTIES OR THEIR AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE.
THE PARTIES TO THIS CONTESTED CASE ARE:
MARGARET MINER AND VOICES
53 South Street
Roxbury, CT 06783
BOARD OF EDUCATION FOR REGIONAL SCHOOL DISTRICT #12
c/o Michael E. Foley, Esq.
Shipman & Goodwin
799 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission