FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Bijan Bahramian,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1998-159
Board of Education,
Meriden Public Schools,
Respondents May 12, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on January 22 , 1999 at which time the complainant and the respondent 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 respondent is a public agency within the meaning of 1-200(1), G.S., (formerly 1-18a(1), G.S.).

        2. By letter of complaint dated and filed June 4, 1998, the complainant, appealed to the Commission alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information Act by convening an illegal meeting on May 5, 1998.

        3. It is found that on May 5, 1998, during a duly noticed regular meeting, the respondent recessed to research the issue of whether Robert’s Rules of Order permitted or barred rescission of a prior vote of the respondent.

        4. It is found that during the recess, three members of the respondent, (a fourth member stopped in very briefly), the superintendent and the assistant superintendent, met privately in the superintendent’s conference room, during which they discussed whether the respondent could rescind the prior vote, what a contract meant and whether the underlying issue being addressed by the respondent should be tabled. It is found that the discussion that took place in the conference room was essentially a repetition of the respondent’s discussion that took place during the open meeting.

        5. Section 1-200(2), G.S., (previously 1-18a(2), G.S.), defines "meeting" to include "[a]ny … proceeding of a public agency … to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power."

        6. Section 1-225(a), G.S., (previously 1-21(a), G.S.), further provides that "[T]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-18a, shall be open to the public."

        7. It is found that the conference room discussion, described in paragraph 4, above, was not a recess or a cessation of the respondent’s May 5, 1998 regular meeting proceedings, but rather a continuation of such proceedings by some members of the respondent.

        8. It is further found that the conference room discussion constituted a proceeding of the respondent, during which members of the respondent discussed a matter over which the respondent has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power, within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S., (previously 1-18a(2), G.S.).

        9. It is also found that the conference room discussion does not fall within any of the allowed executive session purposes. Consequently, such discussion should have taken place during the respondent’s open meeting.

        10. In light of the foregoing, it is concluded that the respondent violated 1-225(a), G.S., (previously 1-21(a), G.S.), by failing to conduct in public, the conference room discussion it conducted in private.

 

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

        1. Henceforth, the respondent shall strictly comply with the open meeting provisions of 1-225(a), G.S., (previously 1-21(a), G.S.).

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of May 12, 1999.

 

_________________________

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:

 

Bijan Bahramian
129 Lydale Place
Meriden, CT 06450
Board of Education,
Meriden Public Schools
c/o Atty. Thomas N. Sullivan
and Atty. Robert J. Murphy
646 Prospect Avenue
Hartford, CT 06105
 

 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1998-159FD/mrb/05181999