FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Tom Arras,  
  Complainant  
  against    Docket #FIC 2006-166

Debbie Corsico, Chairperson,

Board of Education, Regional

School District 14; and Board

of Education, Regional School

District 14,

 
  Respondents February 28, 2007
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 29, 2006, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  For purpose of hearing, the above-captioned case was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2006-146; Donald P. Hassinger v. Board of Education, Regional School District 14.

 

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.

 

2.      It is found that on March 28, 2006, the respondent board held a public hearing on a proposal to allocate approximately 37 million dollars to renovate Regional School District 14’s four schools. 

 

3.      It is found that it came to the attention of the respondent chairperson, Debbie Corsico, that the notice and agenda for the public hearing described in paragraph 2, above, may not have been properly posted pursuant to 1-225(d), G.S.

 

4.      It is found that, at the respondent board’s March 30, 2006 meeting, Ms. Corsico announced that, although “the board” believed that the March 28, 2006 hearing was properly noticed, it was going to schedule another hearing on the matter for April 6, 2006. 

 

5.      By letter dated April 10, 2006, the complainant appealed to this Commission alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by conducting an illegal meeting at which it discussed the issue regarding notice of the March 28, 2006 meeting and scheduled another public hearing for April 6, 2006.  The complainant requested the imposition of civil penalties in this matter.

 

6.      Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides in relevant part that “[t]he meetings of all public agencies . . . shall be open to the public . . . .”

 

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

 

“Meeting” does not include . . .  communication limited to notice of meetings of any public agency or the agendas thereof.

 

8.      At the hearing on this matter, and in his brief, the complainant contended that the respondent chairperson’s use of the words “we” and “the board,” during her announcement at the March 30, 2006 meeting, is indicative of a meeting of the respondent board regarding the posting of the March 28, 2006 hearing and the scheduling of another hearing date, which meeting, the complainant contended, should have been noticed and open to the public.

 

9.      It is found that, at some time prior to the respondents’ March 30, 2006 meeting, the respondent chairperson and one other member of the respondent board met briefly to discuss the issue regarding the posting of the March 28, 2006 hearing and how best to cure the problem.  It is found that they determined that the next available date to hold another hearing was April 6, 2006.  It is found that, based on that discussion, the respondent chairperson made the announcement during the March 30, 2006 meeting described in paragraph 4, above. 

 

10.   It is found that the discussion described in paragraph 9, above, was communication limited to notice of meetings of the respondent board or the agendas thereof within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S.

 

11.   It is concluded, therefore, that the respondents did not violate the open meetings provisions of 1-225(a), G.S., as alleged by the complainant.

 

12.   Consequently, the complainant’s request for the imposition of a civil penalty is denied.

 

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.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of February 28, 2007.

 

________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

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:

 

Tom Arras

PO Box 857

Woodbury, CT 06798

 

Debbie Corsico, Chairperson,

Board of Education, Regional

School District 14; and Board

of Education, Regional School

District 14

c/o William R. Connon, Esq.

646 Prospect Avenue

Hartford, CT 06105

 

 

___________________________________

Petrea A. Jones

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

FIC/2006-166FD/paj/3/5/2007