FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF
In the Matter of a Complaint by Final Decision
against Docket #FIC1996-002
Regional School District #10, Board of Education,
Respondent September 25, 1996
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 7, 1996, at which time the complainant and respondent appeared 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 of complaint dated December 27, 1995 and filed January 2, 1996, the complainant alleged that at the respondent’s December 11, 1995 regular meeting (“December meeting”) an executive session was illegally called and convened to discuss the complainant’s October 18, 1995 request for ten (10) days of unpaid leave (“leave request”) without giving the complainant prior notice, or an opportunity to have the discussions held publicly.
3. Section 1-21(a), G.S., states in relevant part that:
[a] public agency may hold an
executive session as defined in subsection (e) of
section 1-18a, upon an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of such body
present and voting, taken at a public meeting and stating the reasons for such
executive session, as defined in said section. (Emphasis added.)
4. Section 1-18a(e)(1), G.S., in relevant part states that an executive session which excludes the public may be convened to discuss the “appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee, provided that such individual may require that such discussion be held at an open meeting” (emphasis added).
5. It is found that by memorandum dated November 30, 1995 (“memo”), the superintendent of schools for the respondent notified the complainant that the board was preparing the agenda for its December meeting and her leave request would be on the agenda if she called the board’s office to confirm that she still wanted the matter on the agenda.
6. It is found that immediately following the receipt of the memo the complainant called the board’s office and spoke to Superintendent Goldman to confirm her desire to have her leave request on the respondent’s agenda for its December meeting, and to reiterate her desire to have a public discussion of her leave request and the reasons for Lake Garda School Principal Choiniere’s denial of her request.
7. It is found that the respondent placed the complainant’s leave request on its agenda for its December meeting.
8. It is found that the respondent held a December meeting at which a motion was made to “adjourn to executive session to discuss the personnel issue.”
9. It is found that “personnel issue” does not sufficiently state or identify a proper purpose for an executive session as required by §1-18a(e), G.S.
10. The respondent argues that: a) the substance of the complainant’s leave request was not discussed during the executive session convened at the December meeting, rather the question of whether such a request was properly before the board as opposed to being an administrative matter that should be handled by the superintendent was the focus of the discussion; and b) even though Superintendent Goldman attended the executive session, he did not inform the respondent that the complainant wanted all discussions concerning her leave request held publicly.
11. The respondent concedes that: a) the complainant received no prior notification of the respondent’s intention to convene an executive session to discuss issues arising from her leave request, b) upon returning to the public portion of the December meeting from the executive session it “reported” that the leave question was within the “superintendent’s function to handle [as a] personnel matter,” and c) by letter dated December 15, 1995, the superintendent so advised the complainant and denied her leave request.
12. It is found that the respondent did not convene in executive session for a proper purpose as set forth in §1-18a(e), G.S.
13. It is concluded, therefore, that the respondent violated §§1-18a(e) and 1-21, G.S., by convening in executive session at its December meeting.
14. It is further concluded that the complainant was wrongfully denied her right to attend those portions of the December meeting improperly held in executive session, in violation of §1-21, G.S.
following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the
record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. All actions resulting from, or pertaining to the executive session held at the respondent’s December meeting, specifically those actions referred to in paragraph 11(b) and (c) of the findings, above, are hereby declared null and void.
the respondent shall strictly comply with the executive session and open
meeting requirements set forth in §§1-18a(e)
and 1-21, G.S.
3. The respondent shall conspicuously post a copy of the final decision in this case in the board and town clerk offices for a period of not less than thirty calendar days.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 25, 1996.
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission
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:
2 Oak Street
Burlington, CT 06013
Regional School District #10
Board of Education
20 Mills Drive
Elizabeth A. Leifert
Acting Clerk of the Commission