FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 1998-054|
Sherman Board of Education; Facilities
Study Committee, Sherman Board of
Education; and Facilities Design Selection
Committee, Sherman Board of Education,
|Respondents||September 9, 1998|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 16, 1998, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. Upon agreement of all parties, the case caption has been amended to add a respondent, as set forth in the complaint. For purposes of hearing, this case was consolidated with Docket # FIC1998-041, Natalie Sirkin; Rosemary Bradshaw; and Elizabeth Rowburrey against Superintendent, Sherman Public Schools; Board of Education, Sherman Public Schools; Board of Selectman, Town of Sherman; and Town of Sherman.
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.
2. By letter dated and postmarked February 9, 1998, the complainant alleged several violations of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act at meetings held in 1997. At the hearing in this matter, the complainant limited her complaint to allegations against the respondents named in the case caption, above, and to the following issues:
a) The respondents did not file proper notice of their meetings; b) The respondents did not properly elect officers; c) The respondent facilities design selection committee (hereinafter, the subcommittee) was formed without proper public input; d) The respondents did not keep minutes; e) Bids were obtained outside the confines of the FOI Act; f) A request for proposal did not meet the discussed need as outlined by the facilities study committee (hereinafter the committee).
By way of relief, the complainant asked that the Sherman board of education receive formal training in the requirements of the FOI Act.
3. It is concluded that the allegations contained in paragraph 2.b, 2.c, 2.e, and 2.f, above, do not constitute violations of the FOI Act. Accordingly, such allegations shall not be addressed herein.
4. Section 1-21i(b)(1), G.S., in relevant part provides that:
[a]ny person denied any right conferred by the [FOI] Act may appeal therefrom to the [FOI] Commission, by filing a notice of appeal 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 such notice of appeal shall be deemed to be filed on the date it is received by said commission or on the date it is postmarked, if received more than thirty days after the date of the denial from which such appeal is taken
5. It is found that the respondent committee and the respondent subcommittee conducted several meetings in calendar year 1997.
6. It is found that, in 1997, the complainant knew of the respondents allegedly improperly noticed meetings which took place in calendar year 1997.
7. Pursuant to §1-21i(b)(1), G.S., the Commission therefore lacks jurisdiction in this matter to consider allegations with respect to any meetings of the respondents which may have taken place prior to January 10, 1998.
8. Although the complaint alleges that the respondent committee conducted improperly noticed meetings up to and including the middle of January, 1998, the complainant failed to prove that the respondent committee or the respondent subcommittee met on a date certain between January 10, 1998, and February 9, 1998, the date of the mailing of the complaint in this matter.
9. Furthermore, the complainant is limited by the allegations contained in her complaint. Accordingly, the Commission is likewise without jurisdiction to address allegations made by the complainant at the hearing in this matter relative to unnoticed Sherman board of education meetings, since such allegations were not made in her complaint.
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.
2. Although the complaint is necessarily dismissed, the Commission takes seriously the admissions made by the respondents at the hearing in this matter relative to past FOI Act violations. The Commission therefore strongly urges the Sherman Board of Education to contact the Commissions staff to set up a workshop concerning the requirements of that act.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 9, 1998.
_________________________ 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:
Margaret Bessel c/o Henry A. Bessel, Jr. Smoke Ridge Farms Sherman, CT 06784
Chairman, Facilities Study Committee, Sherman Board of Education; Facilities Study Committee, Sherman Board of Education; and Facilities Design Selection Committee, Sherman Board of Education, c/o Michael Perrone and Paul Mucci 2 Route 37 East Sherman, CT 06784
__________________________ Doris V. Luetjen Acting Clerk of the Commission