FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Jay Kronfeld,  
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2007-249

Board of Education,

Regional School District #12,

 
  Respondent November 28, 2007
       

          

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 2, 2007, 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.

 

2.  By email dated and filed April 19, 2007, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by:

 

a.       “For the March 19, 2007 meeting:  The BOE voted to put a binder on a piece of land for a consolidated building.  My complaint is that the BOE never advertised that they were looking for a piece of land….”

 

b.      “Building Committee meeting dated April 4.  There were no minutes seven days hence.”

 

c.       “Meeting on April 9.  Board voted to go to referendum on a consolidated school.  I will fax the agenda.  There was no clue that the BOE would propose a motion to go to referendum on a consolidated school.  The closest thing was item #4 – discussion on building strategy….”

 

3.  It is concluded that the allegation described in paragraph 2.a, above, does not allege a violation of the FOI Act.  Therefore, such allegation shall not be further addressed herein.

 

4.  At the start of the hearing in this matter, the complainant stated that he wished to withdraw the allegation described in paragraph 2.b, above.  Therefore, such allegation shall not be further addressed herein.

 

            5.  The respondent contends that the allegation described in paragraph 2.c, above, does not state a violation of the FOI Act, and therefore, should be dismissed.

 

            6.  Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part, that “[t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions, as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, shall be open to the public.”

 

7.  Section 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….The notice shall specify the time and place of the special meeting and the business to be transacted.

 

8.  In Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Plainfield, et al. v. FOIC et al., Superior Court, Docket No. CV 99-0497917-S, Judicial District of New Britain, Memorandum of Decision dated May 3, 2000 (Satter, J.), reversed on other grounds, 66 Conn. App. 279 (2001), the court observed that one purpose of a meeting agenda “is that the public and interested parties be apprised of matters to be taken up at the meeting in order to properly prepare and be present to express their views,” and that “[a] notice is proper only if it fairly and sufficiently apprises the public of the action proposed, making possible intelligent preparation for participation in the hearing.”

 

            9.  It is concluded that the allegation described in paragraph 2.c, above, alleges a violation of the FOI Act.

 

10.  It is found that the respondent held a special meeting on April 9, 2007.  It is also found that the agenda for such meeting stated, in relevant part:

 

                        “ORDER OF BUSINESS

 

                                    4.  Discussion of Building Project Strategies”    

 

11.  It is found that, during the April 9, 2007 meeting, members of the respondent discussed various options for future school buildings, including putting forward a referendum for the voters on a consolidated school on June 19th for approval on June 30th.  Such motion was made and approved by the members of the respondent at the April 9, 2007 special meeting.

 

12.  It is found that, due to certain procedural defects, the referendum did not take place on June 30th and had not yet occurred, as of the date of the hearing in this matter.

 

13.  It is found that the topic of construction and/or renovation of school buildings is one that has generated significant public interest in the communities that comprise Regional School District #12.  It is also found that, at several meetings of the respondent, during the past year, the topic has been discussed at length, with many members of the public in attendance to speak in support of, or against, various construction or renovation options.   It is further found that, at a special meeting of the respondent on March 19, 2007, members of the respondent discussed and voted to enter into an option agreement to buy a parcel of land for construction of a new school building, with “the cost of the land [to] be included in the overall consolidated school costs and put to referendum.” 

 

14.  It is found that approximately 50 to 60 people attended the April 9, 2007 meeting, and that typically, the attendance at the meetings of the respondent is significantly lower.

 

15.  Although the complainant asserts that attendance at the April 9, 2007 meeting would have been higher had the agenda for such meeting more specifically stated that the respondent intended to vote to put forth a referendum, it is found that such assertion is based merely upon speculation.

 

16.  Based upon the facts and circumstances of this case, it is found that the agenda was specific enough to fairly apprise the public that the respondent would discuss and possibly vote to put forth a referendum concerning the construction of a new school, and it is therefore concluded that the respondent did not violate the FOI Act as alleged.

 

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 November 28, 2007.

 

 

________________________________

Wendy R.B. Paradis

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:

 

Jay Kronfeld

47 South Street

Roxbury, CT  

 

Board of Education,

Regional School District #12

c/o Richard D. O’Connor, Esq.

150 Trumbull Street

Hartford, CT  06106

 

 

___________________________________

Wendy R.B. Paradis

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2007-192FD/wrbp/12/03/2007