FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by Revised Final Decision
against Docket #FIC 92-348
Milford Board of Education Finance Committee and Milford Board of Education,
Respondents July 28, 1993
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 23, 1993, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. After the hearing, the Commission determined that it had inadvertently omitted to name the Milford Board of Education as a respondent in this matter, which omission has been corrected in the caption herein.
A notice of final decision in this matter was mailed on June 25, 1993. By letter dated July 15, 1993, the respondent brought to the Commission's attention a discrepancy between the findings made in this matter and the order made by the Commission. The Commission thereafter, upon the recommendation of the Hearing Officer, voted to reconsider its decision.
After consideration of the entire record, the following facts are found and conclusions of law are reached:
1. The respondents are public agencies within the meaning of 1-18a(a), G.S.
2. By letter of complaint filed November 11, 1992, the complainant appealed to the commission, alleging that:
a. the minutes of the respondent finance committee's September 29, 1992 meeting were not available until October 13, 1992; and
b. the agenda for the respondent board of education's October 13, 1992 meeting was "vague if not misleading."
3. It is found that the respondent finance committee met on September 29, 1992 to discuss, among other things, extending the respondent board's bus contract with the current service vendor, Winkle Bus Co., and not putting the matter out to bid.
Docket #FIC 92-348 Page 2
4. It is found that the finance committee reached a consensus to recommend a new contract with Winkle Bus Co. to the full board of education.
5. At the hearing, the respondent finance committee conceded that the minutes of its September 29, 1992 meeting were not available within seven days of the meeting.
6. It is concluded that the respondent finance committee violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to make available for public inspection the minutes of its September 29, 1992 meeting within seven days of that meeting.
7. It is found that the agenda of the respondent board of education's October 13, 1992 meeting listed, under the category "committee reports," a finance committee recommendation regarding the Winkle Bus Co. contract.
8. The complainant maintains that this agenda item fails to specify what action was contemplated with regard to the contract. Specifically, the complainant argues that the respondent should have identified that action, and not merely discussion, was contemplated, and what that action was to be.
9. It is found that the agenda item reasonably apprises the public that the finance committee was to make a recommendation to the full board regarding the Winkle Bus Co. contract.
10. It is also found that the action of the finance committee at its September 29, 1992 to approve a four-year contract with Winkle Bus Co. had been published in the local newspaper, and the complainant himself had actual knowledge of that action.
11. It is found that the complainant addressed the board of education at its October 13, 1992 meeting before it took up the finance committee's recomendation.
12. It is also found that the complainant in his remarks stated that he expected that the board might agree to apparently completed negotiations on the contract, and would in all likelihood accept the recommendation of its finance committee and vote to waive bidding on the contract.
13. It is found that the agenda item was sufficiently specific to put an interested member of the community on notice that the respondent board of education would receive a committee recommendation regarding the bus contract.
14. It is concluded under the facts of this case that an interested member of the community would understand that the board of education might act on that recommendation, whether or
Docket #FIC 92-348 Page 3
not the words "action" or "contract approval" were contained in the agenda.
15. It is therefore concluded that under the circumstances of this case the disputed agenda item sufficiently described the business to be transacted at the meeting.
16. It is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate 1-21(a), G.S., by using the language contained in its agenda item.
17. The Commission notes that while it finds that the agenda item was technically adequate, the board, as a matter of good public policy, should consider using language in its agenda that specifically communicates whether action will be taken or considered on a particular recommendation, particularly in areas that excite substantial public interest, like the controversy in this case.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. Henceforth the respondent finance committee shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S., concerning the availability of the minutes of a meeting within seven days of a meeting.
2. The complaint is dismissed as to the respondent board of education.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 28, 1993.
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission
Docket #FIC 92-348 Page 4
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:
574 Milford Point Road
Milford, CT 06460
Milford Board of Education Finance Committee and Milford Board of Education
c/o Atty. Ruth Brufsky
Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P. C.
75 Broad Street
Milford, CY 06460
Debra L. Rembowski
Acting Clerk of the Commission