FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Frank J. Roth, Jr.,
Complainants
against Docket #FIC 1999-018
William Groves, Chairman, Board of Education,
Regional District 18; William Wenck;
Steven Mattson; Daniel Hagan; Susan Fogliano,
as members, Board of Education, Regional District 18;
and Board of Education, Regional District 18,
Respondents August 25, 1999

        The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on April 9, 1999 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 1-200(1), G.S., (formerly 1-18a(1), G.S.).

        2. By letter dated January 14, 1999 and filed with the Commission on January 15, 1999, the complainant alleged that five members of the respondent board, Susan Fogliano, William Groves, Daniel Hagan, Steven Mattson and William Wenck violated the Freedom of Information ("FOI") Act by holding an unannounced meeting sometime between December 16, 1998 and January 6, 1999. In his letter of complaint, the complainant requested that the commission impose a civil penalty upon the individual board members responsible for any violation found.

        3. Section 1-200(2), G.S., (formerly 1-18a(2), G.S., provides, in relevant part:

"Meeting" means … any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power. "Meeting" shall not include: … communication limited to notice of meetings of any public agency or the agendas thereof….

        4. It is found that on December 16, 1998, the nine - member respondent board held its election for officers (hereinafter "election").

        5. It is found that during the election for chairman, three board members received votes as follows: White - 4 votes, Hagan - 3 votes and Wenck - 2 votes. White was declared board chairman.

        6. It is found that following the election, an issue arose concerning the legality of the election for chairman, following which five members of the respondent board requested that White place on the upcoming January 6, 1999 meeting agenda an item for the consideration of the election and a possible re-election. White did not which frustrated the five members.

        7. It is found that the request of the five board members resulted from their communications and agreement that it was necessary to revisit the election issue and in order to do so such item needed to be placed on the agenda. It is found that sometime during the period following the election and January 6, 1999, respondents Fogliano, Groves, Hagan, Mattson and Wenck communicated at different times about placing the legality of the election issue and possible reelection on the agenda of the board. The five communicated by telephone, e-mail and in person.

        8. The complainant contends that the discussions/communications and agreement by the five board members that the election issue needed to be revisited constituted a meeting.

        9. It is found however, that the discussion/communications and agreement by the five board members constituted communications limited to "notice of meetings… or the agendas thereof" within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S., (formerly 1-18a(2), G.S.).

        10. Consequently, it is concluded that the respondents did not violate the FOI Act as alleged in the complaint.

 

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

The complaint is hereby dismissed.

 

        Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of

August 25, 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:

 

Frank J. Roth, Jr.
c/o Atty. Christopher F. Oliveira
Seven Hefflon Farm Road
Old Lyme, CT 06371
William Groves, Chairman, Board of Education, Regional District 18;
William Wenck; Steven Mattson; Daniel Hagan; Susan Fogliano, as members,
Board of Education, Regional District 18; and Board of Education, Regional District 18
c/o Atty. Nicholas J. Grello
Siegel, O’Connor, Schiff & Zangari, P.C.
150 Trumbull Street
Hartford, CT 06103
 

 

 

__________________________

Melanie R. Balfour

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC1999-018FD/mrb/08261999