FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Michael E. Board and Killingworth
against Docket #FIC 1997-031
Helen Reeve, Chairman, Regional School
District #17, Board of Education; James
Sheppard; Robert Daves; Edward Vynalek;
Jeannetta Coley; Robert Lentz; Patricia
Taylor-Wolak; Michael Dagostino;
Robert Bilafer; and Rebecca Bergeron, as
members of the Regional School District #17,
Board of Education; Regional School District
#17, Board of Education; Charles Sweetman,
Superintendent of Schools, Regional School
District #17; and Gary Shettle, Finance Director,
Regional School District #17,
Respondents December 10, 1997
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on November 19, 1997, at which time the complainants and the respondents 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-18a(1), G.S. (prior to October 1, 1997, §1-18a(a), G.S.).
2. On January 9, 1996, the respondent board held a special meeting at which it convened in executive session for approximately four hours, moved out of executive session, and voted to recess the meeting until the following evening. On January 10, 1996, the board reconvened its executive session for approximately three-quarters of an hour. Thereafter, the board reconvened in public session, nominated an individual for a one year term as chairman, and then voted in favor of the nomination.
3. By letter dated and filed January 3, 1997, the complainants appealed to the Commission stating that in December, 1996, they first learned that the Board allegedly came to an agreement during the executive session of January 9-10, 1996, which agreement was neither referenced during the public portion of the meeting nor in the meeting minutes, and that such omission was in violation the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act. The complainants requested the imposition of civil penalties against the respondents.
4. The respondents moved to dismiss the complaint, citing §1-21i(b)(1), G.S., which in relevant part states:
Any person denied…any…right conferred by the [FOI] Act may appeal therefrom to the Freedom of Information Commission, by filing a notice of appeal with said commission. A notice of appeal shall be filed within thirty days after such denial, except in the case of an unnoticed or secret meeting, in which case the appeal shall be filed within thirty days after the person filing the appeal receives notice in fact that such meeting was held…
5. It is found that the complaint to the Commission was filed beyond the thirty-day jurisdictional mandate for filing appeals set forth in §1-21i(b)(1), G.S.
6. The complainants contend that the Commission has jurisdiction over their complaint since it was filed within thirty days of their becoming aware of the alleged violation.
7. It is found that the complainants attended the January 9-10, 1996, meeting of the respondent board.
8. It is further found that there is no evidence that the January 9-10, 1996, special meeting of the respondent board was not properly noticed in accordance with §1-21, G.S.
9. It is further found that the complainants failed to prove that such meeting was “unnoticed or secret” within the meaning of §1-21i(b)(1), G.S.
10. Therefore, it is concluded that the Commission lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this complaint.
11. Based upon the conclusion in paragraph 10, above, it is inappropriate to comment on the merits of the complaint in this matter.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is hereby dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of December 10, 1997.
Doris V. Luetjen
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:
Michael E. Board and Killingworth Taxpayers Association
Killingworth, CT 06419
Helen Reeve, Chairman, Regional School District #17, Board of Education; James Sheppard; Robert Daves; Edward Vynalek; Jeannetta Coley; Robert Lentz; Patricia Taylor-Wolak; Michael Dagostino; Robert Bilafer; and Rebecca Bergeron, as members of the Regional School District #17, Board of Education; Regional School District #17, Board of Education; Charles Sweetman, Superintendent of Schools, Regional School District #17; and Gary Shettle, Finance Director, Regional School District #17
c/o Anne H. Littlefield and Thomas Mooney
Shipman and Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103-2819
Doris V. Luetjen
Acting Clerk of the Commission