FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Virginia M. Wickersham,
against Docket #FIC 94-75
Bolton Board of Education,
Respondent February 2, 1995
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 9, 1994, at which time the complainant 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 #FIC 94-43, Virginia M. Wickersham against Bolton Board of Education. Immediately following the hearing, the respondent submitted to the Commission for in camera inspection a copy of the document described in paragraph 3 of the findings, below.
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 March 10, 1994, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that she had been denied a copy of a certain opinion letter; that the respondent changed the agenda of its February 17, 1994 meeting less than 24 hours before the meeting; and that the respondent had held an unnoticed meeting on March 3, 1994.
3. It is found that the respondent's attorney wrote an opinion for the respondent concerning the propriety of an executive session convened by the respondent on January 27, 1994.
4. It is found the complainant requested a copy of the letter at the end of the respondent's February 10, 1994 meeting.
5. It is found that the respondent denied the complainant's request.
6. It is found that the opinion letter is a public record within the meaning of 1-18a(d) and 1-19(a), G.S.
7. The respondent maintains that the opinion letter is exempt from disclosure as a communication privileged by the attorney-client relationship within the meaning of 1-19(b)(10), G.S.
Docket #FIC 94-75 Page 2
8. The respondent further maintains that the communication was privileged because the superintendent sought legal advice, and the superintendent and the respondent's counsel understood that that advice was to remain confidential.
9. It is found, however, that neither the superintendent nor any member of the respondent communicated anything confidential to the attorney.
10. It is also found that the document examined in camera discloses no confidential facts, and is merely an analysis of the applicable law to a well-known state of facts.
11. It is therefore concluded that the attorney's opinion letter was not privileged, and that the respondent violated 1-15(a) and 1-19(a), G.S., by failing to provide the complainant with a copy of the requested opinion letter.
12. With respect to the complainant's allegation concerning the two different agendas of the February 17, 1994 meeting, it is found that the agenda filed with the town clerk contained an item of business that was not included on the agenda provided to board members at the February 17, 1994 meeting.
13. It is also found that, at the complainant's request, the respondent did not take up as business the item that was contained only on the filed agenda.
14. It is concluded that the respondent did not violate the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act with respect to its agenda for the February 17, 1994 meeting.
15. With respect to the complainant's allegation concerning the respondent's March 3, 1994 meeting, it is found that the respondent held a budget workshop on that date.
16. It is also found that the respondent's funds were authorized to be spent and its bills paid at the March 3, 1994 workshop.
17. It is found that the respondent filed no individual notice or agenda of its March 3, 1994 workshop, but had filed a notice that it would be conducting budget workshops on a series of dates, including March 3, 1994, to review the administration's recommended budget and to finalize the budget the respondent would recommend to the board of finance.
18. It is also found that the March 3, 1994 workshop was open to the public.
19. It is concluded that the March 3, 1994 workshop was a meeting within the meaning of 1-18a(b) and 1-21(a), G.S.
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20. It is found that the notice of the series of budget workshops was sufficient notice of so much of the March 3, 1994 workshop as was devoted to discussing the administration's proposed budget and finalizing the respondent's own budget.
21. It is also found, however, that the notice of the March 3, 1994 meeting contained no notice that the respondent would act to pay bills or authorize the expenditure of funds.
22. It is therefore found that the notice of the series of budget workshops was not adequate to inform the public that the respondent would take up business beyond formulating the budget, such as authorizing the expenditure of funds or payment of bills.
23. It is therefore concluded that the respondent violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to include in its notice all of the business to be transacted at the March 3, 1994 budget workshop.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The respondent shall forthwith provide to the complainant a copy of the opinion letter described in paragraph 3 of the findings, above.
2. Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-21(a), G.S., concerning the description in its notices and agendas of the business to be transacted at its meetings.
3. With respect to the remainder of the complainant's allegations, the complaint is dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of January 25, 1995.
Debra L. Rembowski
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:
VIRGINIA M. WICKERSHAM
4 Dimock Lane
Bolton, CT 06043
BOLTON BOARD OF EDUCATION
c/o Richard A. Mills, Jr., Esq.
Shipman & Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103-2819
Debra L. Rembowski
Clerk of the Commission