FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 91-206
Lebanon Board of Education,
Respondent December 11, 1991
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 15, 1991, at which time the complainant 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 letter filed July 23, 1991, the complainant appealed to the Commission alleging that during its June 24, 1991 meeting the respondent voted to offer the position of middle school principal to Ms. Beth Katz and that the respondent failed to record the votes of each of its members in the minutes of the meeting.
3. It is found that on June 24, 1991 the respondent held a special meeting for the purpose of interviewing final candidates for the position of middle school principal (hereinafter "principal position"), as stated on the agenda for the meeting.
4. It is found that the respondent convened in executive session during its June 24, 1991 special meeting and interviewed two final candidates, Ms. Katz and the complainant, for the principal position.
5. It is also found that during the executive session described in paragraph 4, above, the candidates were interviewed
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individually and that each candidate left the executive session after his or her respective interview.
6. It is found that the minutes for the June 24, 1991 special meeting do not indicate that a vote was taken by the respondent either in executive session or upon reconvening in public session.
7. The respondent maintains that a vote was not recorded in the minutes of its June 24, 1991 special meeting because it did not conduct a vote during the meeting.
8. The respondent further maintains that following the principal position interviews the respondent board members remained in executive session and engaged in a discussion of the candidates' strengths and weaknesses and that each respondent board member expressed his or her preference for either candidate.
9. It is found that based upon the post-interview discussion, the chairman of the executive search committee for the principal position directed the Superintendent of Schools, to "continue discussions" with Ms. Katz and to ascertain whether she was still interested in the position although all of the conditions of employment, such as salary and start date, were not yet resolved.
10. It is also found that on June 25, 1991, the Superintendent of Schools contacted Ms. Katz and ascertained that she was still interested in the principal position.
11. It is also found that subsequent to the June 24, 1991 special meeting neither the respondent nor the Superintendent of Schools contacted the complainant to ascertain whether he was still interested in the principal position.
12. It is also found that on July 9, 1991 the respondent held a special meeting during which a motion was made "to approve the appointment of Beth Katz, for the principal position, at a salary to be determined" and that the motion passed. The minutes for the July 9, 1991 special meeting identify the individual votes of each of the respondent board members with respect to the motion to appoint Ms. Katz.
13. It is also found that as a result of budget reductions, the principal position was not funded for the 1991-1992 fiscal year.
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14. Section 1-21, G.S., requires that "the votes of each member of any public agency upon any issue before such public
agency...shall be recorded in the minutes of the session at which taken."
15. It is found that while agency action generally requires a vote on an issue by a majority of the agency membership thereof at a public meeting, in this particular instance, the expressions of individual preferences by the respondent board members during the June 24, 1991 executive session constituted a vote on an issue before a public agency within the meaning of 1-21, G.S.
16. In addition, 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., allows for discussion only concerning the appointment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer during an executive session and does not allow votes to be taken during an executive session.
17. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., when it conducted a de facto vote in executive session to continue discussions with Ms. Katz and not the complainant.
18. It is further concluded that the respondent violated 1-21, G.S., when it failed to record the votes of each respondent board member present and voting during the June 24, 1991 special 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 strictly comply with the requirements of 1-18a(e) and 1-21, G.S., with respect to votes taken during executive sessions and the recording of votes of its members.
2. The respondent shall forthwith reconstruct the vote of each of its members taken during the June 24, 1991 special meeting and shall amend the minutes for said meeting to reflect those votes.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of December 11, 1991.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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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:
c/o Attorney Mark Favrow
5 Hillcrest Heights
Lebanon, CT 06249
Lebanon Board of Education
c/o AttorneyDonald Romanik
Shipman & Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103-2819
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission