OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT
|In the Matter of a Complaint by||FINAL DECISION|
|against||Docket #FIC 2007-138|
Board of Education,
Middletown Public Schools,
|Respondent||September 26, 2007|
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 30, 2007, 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, this matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2007-097, Halina Trelski v. Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools; Docket #FIC 2007-098, Halina Trelski v. Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools; Docket #FIC 2007-118, Halina Trelski v. Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools; and Docket #FIC 2007-119, Halina Trelski v. Board of Education, Middletown Public Schools.
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)(A), G.S.
2. By letter dated March 2, 2007 and filed March 6, 2007, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the Policy Committee of the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by:
a. failing to file a schedule of regular meetings;
b. failing to post notice of Policy Committee meetings in the Board of Education office;
c. failing to specify in the minutes of Policy Committee meetings whether the meeting was a special or regular meeting; and
d. adding an unnoticed item to the agenda of the special meeting of December 4, 2006.
3. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.a, above, §1-225(b), G.S., provides in relevant part:
The chairperson or secretary of any such public agency of any political subdivision of the state shall file, not later than January thirty-first of each year, with the clerk of such subdivision the schedule of regular meetings of such public agency for the ensuing year, and no such meeting of any such public agency shall be held sooner than thirty days after such schedule has been filed.
4. It is found that the respondent is a working committee that meets on various occasions depending on the committee’s business demands and the availability of its members. It is further found that, because the committee’s members have outside employment, it is impossible to choose far in advance convenient dates for the committee’s meetings, which all occur during normal business hours.
5. It is found that the respondent’s Policy Committee considers its meetings to be special meetings under the FOI Act.
6. Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, it is concluded that it is not reasonable to require an agency to file a schedule of regular meetings when it does not anticipate meeting regularly. See Docket #FIC 2006-147, Gary Lindsey v. Board of Assessment Appeals, Town of Wallingford.
7. Based on the facts and circumstances of this case, it is concluded that the respondent did not violate §1-225(a), G.S., as alleged in paragraph 2.a, above, by failing to file a schedule of regular meetings.
8. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.b, above, §1-225(d), G.S., provides in relevant part:
Notice of each special meeting of every public agency ... shall be given not less than twenty-four hours prior to the time of such meeting by filing a notice of the time and place thereof ... in the office of the clerk of such subdivision for any public agency of a political subdivision of the state ... The … clerk shall cause any notice received under this section to be posted in his office.
9. It is concluded that the FOI Act does not require each agency to post notice of its meetings at its office.
10. It is concluded that the allegation described in paragraph 2.b, above, does not allege a violation of the FOI Act.
11. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.c, above, §1-210(a), G.S., provides in relevant part: “Each agency shall make, keep and maintain a record of the proceedings of its meetings.”
12. It is concluded that, while the Commission encourages identifying meetings as special or regular, the FOI Act does not require minutes of the meeting of an agency to state whether the meeting was a special or regular meeting.
13. It is concluded that the allegation described in paragraph 2.c, above, does not allege a violation of the FOI Act.
14. With respect to the allegation described in paragraph 2.d., above, the Commission necessarily must determine whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over such allegation.
15. Section 1-206(b)(1), G.S., provides in relevant part:
Any person denied the right to inspect or copy records under section 1-210 or wrongfully denied the right to attend any meeting of a public agency or denied any other right conferred by the Freedom of Information Act may appeal therefrom to the Freedom of Information Commission, by filing a notice of appeal with said commission. A notice of appeal shall be filed within thirty days after such denial, except in the case of an unnoticed or secret meeting, in which case the appeal shall be filed within thirty days after the person filing the appeal receives notice in fact that such meeting was held.
16. It is found that on November 17, 2006, the respondent filed with the town clerk the notice of the Policy Committee’s December 4, 2006 special meeting, as required by §1-225(d), G.S.
17. It is found that no later than January 8, 2007, and possibly earlier, the respondent made available for public inspection the minutes of the December 4, 2006 meeting.
18. It is found that the December 4, 2006 meeting of the respondent was not unnoticed or secret within the meaning of §1-206(b)(1), G.S.
19. Moreover, it is found that the complainant had notice in fact of the December 4, 2006 meeting no later than January 8, 2007, and that the complaint in this matter was filed more than thirty days after such date.
20. Accordingly, it is concluded that the Commission has no jurisdiction to address alleged violations occurring at the respondent’s December 4, 2006 meeting, as alleged in paragraph 2.d, above.
The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
1. The complaint is dismissed.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 26, 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:
49 Summer Hill Road
Middletown, CT 06457
Board of Education,
Middletown Public Schools
c/o Rebecca R. Santiago, Esq.
Shipman & Goodwin LLP
One Constitution Plaza
Hartford, CT 06103-1919
Petrea A. Jones
Acting Clerk of the Commission