FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Lorri Cavaliere,
  Complainant  
  against Docket #FIC 2003-442

Board of Education,

Amity Regional School District #5,

 
  Respondent  July 28, 2004
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 19, 2004, at which time the complainant and the respondent appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purposes of hearing, the above-captioned case was consolidated with Docket # FIC 2003-034, Lorri Cavaliere v. Board of Education, Amity Regional School District #5.

 

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.

 

2.      By letter dated October 23, 2003 and filed on October 24, 2003, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondent board violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by conducting an illegal meeting regarding the purchase of office furniture.  The complainant alleged that the respondent board failed to post notice of the meeting and failed to make the agenda and minutes of the meeting available for public inspection.

 

3.      It is found that the complainant became a member of the respondent board at some time after the alleged meeting and as such was questioned by a member of the public regarding the school district’s purchase of certain office furniture. 

 

4.      It is found that the complainant made inquiries about the purchase of the office furniture to various members of the respondent board and was informed that on some date in January, 2003, the former superintendent of schools, the respondent board’s finance committee members, and other members of the respondent board met to discuss the purchase of the office furniture. 

 

5.      It is found that the respondent offered no evidence regarding the alleged meeting of January 2003.  Consequently, the decision in this case is based on the credible testimony and evidence provided by the complainant.

 

6.      Section 1-200(2), G.S., provides in relevant par that:

 

“Meeting” means any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency, and 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 . . .

 

7.      It is found that in January 2003, the respondent board held a proceeding to discuss and act upon a matter over which it has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power by meeting with members of its subcommittee, members of the respondent board at large, and the former superintendent to discuss the expenditure of school district funds to purchase office furniture. 

 

8.      It is concluded therefore that the respondent board held a “meeting” within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S., which meeting was not a regularly scheduled meeting of the respondent board and therefore was a special meeting.

 

9.      With respect to the complainant’s allegation regarding the respondent’s failure to post notice and an agenda of its January 2003 special meeting, it is found that the complainant first learned of the January 2003 meeting on or about July 14, 2003, in an e-mail from the respondent board’s finance director.

 

10.  It is found, therefore, that the complaint in this matter was filed more than 30 days after July 14, 2003.  Accordingly, it is concluded that this Commission lacks subject matter jurisdiction over such allegations and they will not be addressed herein.

 

11.  Section 1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “each such agency shall make, keep and maintain a record of the proceedings of its meetings.”

 

12.  However, failure to maintain minutes and votes is an ongoing violation since 1-210(a), G.S., places an obligation on public agencies to make, keep and maintain a record of the proceedings of their meetings. 

 

13.  Section 1-225(a), provides in relevant part that “. . . the minutes [of a public agency’s meetings] shall be available for public inspection within seven days of the session to which they refer.”

 

14.  It is found that the complainant made requests for minutes of the January 2003 meeting to various members of the respondent board and was informed that no such records exist.

 

15.  It is found that the complainant searched the respondent board’s records for the minutes of the January 2003 meeting herself and found none.

 

16.  It is found that the respondent board has failed to make available to the public minutes of it January 2003 special meeting and it is concluded that the respondent board is in violation of 1-225(a), G.S., in that regard.

 

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

 

1.      The respondent board shall generate minutes of the January 2003 special meeting described in paragraph 4 of the findings, above, which minutes, at the minimum, shall record the time, date and place of the January 2003 meeting, the members of the respondent board that attended the meeting, the subject of the discussion, any motions that were made and any votes taken.  A copy of such minutes shall be provided to the complainant, free of charge, within 7 days of the notice of the final decision in the case.

 

2.      Henceforth the respondent shall strictly comply with the provisions of 1-225(a), G.S.

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 28, 2004.

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

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:

 

Lorri Cavaliere

27 Virginia Rail

Bethany, CT  06524

 

Board of Education,

Amity Regional School District #5

c/o Richard A. Mills, Jr., Esq.

Shipman & Goodwin LLP

One Constitution Plaza

Hartford, CT  06103

 

 

 

___________________________________

Ann B. Gimmartino

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2003-442/FD/abg/07/29/2004