FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by CORRECTED FINAL DECISION
Avon Taxpayers Association,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-097
Facilities Subcommittee, Avon
Board of Education, Town of Avon;
Policy Subcommittee, Avon Board
of Education, Town of Avon; and
Board of Education, Town of Avon,
Respondents October 14, 1998

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 27, 1998, at
which time the complainant 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.

     2. It is found that the respondent facilities subcommittee held a meeting on
March 10, 1998 and that the respondent policy subcommittee held a meeting on March
11, 1998.

     3. It is found that on or about March 18, 1998, the complainant inquired of the
secretary of the superintendent of Avon Public Schools as to whether notices for the
meetings described in paragraph 2, above, had been filed and was told that they had not.

     4. By letter dated April 7, 1998, and received on April 8, 1998, the complainant
appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent board of education violated the
Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by:

a. failing to properly notice meetings;
b. having closed meetings;
c. failing to record the votes taken at the meetings within 48 hours;
and
d. failing to create and file minutes of meetings.
The complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties and that the subject meetings
be declared null and void.

     5. With respect to the alleged violation described in paragraph 4a, above, 1-
21(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that:

“[n]otice of each special meeting of every public
agency . . . shall be given not less that twenty-four
hours prior to the time of such meeting . . . .”

     6. At the hearing on this matter, the respondents admitted that they had not filed
notices for the two meetings described in paragraph 2, above.

     7. Therefore, it is concluded that the respondents violated 1-21(a), G.S., by
failing to file notices for the meetings of March 10 and March 11, as described in
paragraph 2, above.

     8. With respect to the alleged violation described in paragraph 4b, above, 1-
21(a), G.S., further provides in relevant part that “[t]he meetings of all public agencies
. . . shall be open to the public.”

     9. At the hearing on this matter, the complainant argued that since the meetings
described in paragraph 2, above, were not properly noticed, they were therefore “closed”
meetings in violation of the FOI Act.

     10. It is found that although the respondents failed to file requisite notice for the
subject meetings, there is no evidence that the respondents prevented any member of the
public from attending the meetings or that the meetings were not convened and held as
open meetings.

     11. Therefore, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-21(a), G.S.,
by failing to hold their meetings open to the public.

     12. With respect to the alleged violation described in paragraph 4c, above, 1-
21(a), G.S., further provides in relevant part that:

“[t]he votes of each member of any . . . public
agency . . . shall be reduced to writing and made
available for public inspection within forty-eight
hours . . . .”

     13. It is found that no votes were taken at either the March 10 or the March 11
meetings described in paragraph 2, above.

     14. Therefore, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate 1-21(a), G.S.
by failing to reduce votes to writing and make them available for public inspection within
forty-eight hours, as alleged by the complainant.

     15. With respect to the alleged violation described in paragraph 4d, above, 1-
21(a), G.S., further provides in relevant part that “ . . . minutes shall be available for
public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer.”

     16. It is found that the superintendent took notes at both the March 10 and the
March 11 meetings, but no minutes for such meetings were created by the respondents.

     17. It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-21(a), G.S., by failing to make
minutes of the meetings described in paragraph 2, above, available to the public within
seven days of the session to which they refer.

     18. The Commission declines to impose civil penalties or to issue a null and void
order with respect to either of the two meetings described in paragraph 2, above, under
the facts of this case.

     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of
the record concerning the above-captioned complaint.

     1. The respondents shall forthwith construct minutes for each of the meetings
described in paragraph 2 of the findings, above, which minutes shall be placed on file
with the respondent board’s secretary within thirty days of the mailing of the notice of the
final decision in this matter.

     2. Henceforth, the respondents shall comply with the notice and minutes
provisions of 1-21(a), G.S.

     3. Although the Commission lacks jurisdiction to consider allegations regarding
alleged violations that occurred prior to March 10, 1998, as raised by the complainant at
the hearing on this matter, the Commission wishes to caution the respondents that similar
future violations could result in the imposition of civil penalties in amounts up to
$1000.00.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of
October 14, 1998.

_________________________
Melanie R. Balfour
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:

Avon Taxpayers Association
P.O.Box 934
Avon, CT 06001

Facilities Subcommittee, Avon
Board of Education, Town of Avon;
Policy Subcommittee, Avon Board
of Education, Town of Avon; and
Board of Education, Town of Avon,
c/o Atty. Anne H. Littlefield
Shipman & Goodwin
One American Row
Hartford, CT 06103


__________________________
Melanie R. Balfour
Acting Clerk of the Commission


FIC1998-097FD/mrb10151998