FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Kathleen Edgecomb, Lynn Bonner and The Day,
against Docket #FIC 90-146
East Lyme Board of Education,
Respondent January 23, 1991
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 2, 1990, 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 and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By complaint filed April 25 1990, the complainants alleged that the respondent met illegally April 8, 1990 when the chairwoman polled members concerning whether the respondent should buy out the contract of the superintendent.
3. The complainants ask that the action of the board taken on April 8 and 16 be declared null and void and that the respondent be instructed regarding the Freedom of Information laws.
4. The respondent claimed that there was no meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b), G.S. on April 8, 1990.
5. It is found that on April 8, 1990, the chairwoman of the respondent phoned at least three board members, and that by August 9, 1990, all but one of the members of the respondent board had discussed by telephone with the chairman a decision to buy out of the superintendent's contract and other matters relevant thereto.
6. It is found that the chairwoman of the respondent did discuss the buy out of the superintendent's contract with him on April 9, 1990.
Docket #FIC 90-146 Page Two
7. It is found that subsequent to her discussions with the superintendent, the chairwoman of the respondent told a reporter for the complainant newspaper that she had been authorized by the board to discuss matters related to buying out the contract of the superintendent.
8. It is found that the superintendent failed to attend the regular meeting of the respondent on April 9, 1990, although he was listed on the agenda as reporting to the respondent on certain specified matters.
9. It is found that neither the agenda nor the minutes of the April 9, 1990 meeting of the respondent make reference to the buy out of the superintendent's contract which had been discussed with him by the chairwoman of the respondent.
10. It is concluded that the respondent did not discuss or authorize the buy out of the superintendent's contract at its regular meeting on April 9, 1990.
11. It is found that on April 16, 1990, at a special meeting the respondent voted 5-4 to approve a motion that the chairwoman be empowered to enter into negotiations with the superintendent to discuss the remainder of the superintendent's contract term in East Lyme.
12. It is found that at the same April 16, 1990 special meeting the respondent voted 5-4 to relieve the superintendent of his duties and placed him on leave with pay for the remainder of the year.
13. It is found that prior to the vote described at paragraph 11, the minutes of the April 16, 1990 special meeting show that all but one member of the respondent had been informed regarding the action of the chairwoman. The minutes of the April 16, 1990 meeting state:
Barbara Potopowitz, after being out of town for a week, felt that she was not totally up to date on the proceedings leading to Dr. Minor's [the superintendent's] dismissal.
Dave Sandell, Mary Kraemer, Dot Lamb, and Mary Broderick indicted that they felt totally informed of Mrs. Fenick's [the chairwoman's] action; however, Joe Mingo, Mike Pray, and Bill Grover expressed concerns.
Docket #FIC 90-146 Page Three
14. It is concluded that the chairwoman's series of telephone calls on April 8 and 9 constituted an illegal meeting of the respondent within the meaning of 1-18a(b) and 1-21, G.S., because the telephone calls were communication to a quorum of the respondent board by means of electronic equipment to discuss a matter over which the respondent had jurisdiction, supervision, and control.
15. It is concluded that it is not appropriate under the facts of this case to declare the action of the respondent board null and void.
1. The respondent board shall henceforth comply with 1-21, and 1-18a(b), G.S.
Approved by order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 23, 1991.
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 90-146 Page Four
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:
KATHLEEN EDGECOMB, LYNN BONNER AND THE DAY
47 Eugene O'Neill Drive
P.O. Box 1231
New London, CT 06320
EAST LYME BOARD OF EDUCATION
c/o Donald W. Strickland, Esq.
370 Asylum Street
Hartford, CT 06103
Tina C. Frappier
Acting Clerk of the Commission