FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Bradshaw Smith,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2008-047

Personnel Search Committee,

Board of Education, Windsor

Public Schools; and Board of Education,

Windsor Public Schools,

 
  Respondents August 13, 2008
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on June 17, 2008, 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)(A), G.S.

 

2.      It is found that by letter dated January 15, 2008, the complainant requested that he be placed on the mailing list for notification of meetings of the Windsor High School Principal Search Committee.

 

3.      It is found that by letter dated January 18, 2008, the respondents denied the complainant’s request, on the grounds that the search committee did not hold a “meeting,” within the meaning of 1-200(2), G.S.

 

4.      By letter dated January 22, 2008 and filed on the same day, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by refusing to place the complainant’s name on the mailing list for notification of meetings of the Windsor High School Principal Search Committee.

 

5.      Section 1-227, G.S., states in relevant part, “The public agency shall, where practicable, give notice by mail of each regular meeting, and of any special meeting which is called, at least one week prior to the date set for the meeting, to any person who has filed a written request for such notice with such body . . . .”

 

6.      The respondents claim that the Windsor High School Principal Search Committee does not hold a “meeting” under the FOI Act, and that the FOI Act did not require them to follow the notice requirements of 1-227, G.S.

 

7.      Section 1-200(2), G.S., provides in relevant part, “ ‘Meeting’ does not include:  Any meeting of a personnel search committee for executive level employment candidates.”

 

8.      “Personnel search committee” is defined in 1-200(7), G.S., as “a body appointed by a public agency, whose sole purpose is to recommend to the appointing agency a candidate or candidates for an executive-level employment position.”

 

9.      It is found that the only issue in dispute in this matter is whether the position of principal of the Windsor High School is “executive level employment” within the meaning of 1-200(2) and (7), G.S.

 

10.   Although the FOI Act does not define “executive level employment,” it is found that “executive level” refers to an employment position requiring administrative or supervisory authority in an organization.  Executive.  Dictionary.com  Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, http://dictionary.reference.com/ browse/executive (accessed:  June 25, 2008).

 

11.   It is found that the position of principal of the Windsor High School is one of the highest in the school system.  It is found that the position is a “flagship” position, with supervisory authority for more than 1000 students and more than 100 employees.  It is found that the principal is responsible for all administrative decisions concerning the school. 

 

12.   It is found, therefore, that the position of principal of the Windsor High School is executive level employment.

 

13.   The complainant refers to 10-151c, G.S., to support his argument that only the position of superintendent is executive level:  “For the purposes of this section, ‘teacher’ includes each certified professional employee below the rank of superintendent…” It is concluded, however, that 10-151c, G.S., concerns the confidentiality of teacher performance evaluations, and that nothing in the statute conflicts with the finding in paragraph 12, above.

 

14.   The complainant also asserts in his brief that the General Assembly intended the term “executive level position” to refer only to chief administrative officers.  It is found, however, that the legislative history of P.A. 87-568, which carved out the exemption for personnel search committees, did not address the meaning of “executive level position.”

 

15.   It is concluded that the Windsor High School Principal Search Committee is a personnel search committee, within the meaning of 1-200(2) and (7), G.S.

 

16.   Accordingly, it is concluded that the meetings of such personnel search committee were not “meetings” under the FOI Act and that the respondents did not violate 1-227, G.S., by refusing to notify the complainant by mail of the committee’s meetings.

 

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 August 13, 2008.

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

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:

 

Bradshaw Smith 

23 Ludlow Road

Windsor, CT 06095

 

Personnel Search Committee,

Board of Education, Windsor

Public Schools; and Board of Education,

Windsor Public Schools

c/o Gary R. Brochu, Esq.

Shipman & Goodwin, LLP

One Constitution Plaza

Hartford, CT 06103-1919

 

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

FIC/2008-047FD/sw/8/19/2008