FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
Laura Langello,  
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-301

Board of Education,

West Haven Public Schools,

 
  Respondent March 9, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on October 6, 2010, 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 letter dated May 7, 2010, and filed with the Commission on May 11, 2010, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondent violated the Freedom of Information (hereinafter “FOI”) Act by conducting a “secret” meeting on May 3, 2010, at which time the respondent considered the complainant’s “continued employment” and “voted to terminate the complainant’s teaching contract.”  The complainant specifically alleged that she was not afforded an opportunity to attend the secret meeting because the respondent failed to adequately notify her.  The complainant asked that all actions taken by the respondent at such meeting concerning her, “be declared nullified, vacated and set aside.”

 

3.  Section 1-225(c), G.S., provides, in relevant part:

 

The agenda of the regular meeting of every public agency. . . shall be available to the public and shall be filed, not less than twenty-four hours before the meeting to which they refer, (1) in such agency’s regular office or place of business, and (2) . . . in the office of the clerk of such subdivision for any public agency of a political subdivision of the state or in the office of the clerk of each municipal member of any multitown district or agency . . . Upon the affirmative vote of two-thirds of the members of a public agency present and voting, any subsequent business not included in such filed agendas may be considered and acted upon at such meetings.

 

4.  It is found that the respondent board held a regular meeting at 7:00 p.m. on May 3, 2010 (hereinafter “the meeting”).

 

            5.  It also found that the agenda of the regular meeting was prepared, posted on the respondent’s website, and on file in the offices of the respondent and the West Haven City Clerk on Thursday, April 29, 2010.

 

6.  It is found that the respondent’s agenda for the meeting lists the following item for discussion under new business: “10-30  Adoption of Findings of Fact and Conclusion and recommendation of Hearing Officer regarding Laura Langello” (hereinafter “the recommendation”).

 

7.  It is found that, at the meeting, the respondent board discussed whether to adopt the recommendation described in paragraph 6, above.  It is also found that, subsequent to the discussion, the respondent board voted favorably to adopt the recommendation regarding Laura Langello.

 

8.  It is further found that the respondent board’s discussion of, and subsequent adoption of, the recommendation occurred at the May 3, 2010 meeting in the presence of the public.

 

9.  In Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Plainfield, et al. v. FOIC, et al., Superior Court, Docket No. 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.”  There is no requirement in the FOI Act that the subject of an agenda item receive personal notice of such item if the item is discussed in open session.

 

10.  While the complainant asserts that the respondent board met secretly and failed to afford her an opportunity to attend the meeting by not providing her with adequate notice that her employment would be discussed, it is found that the agenda for the May 3, 2010 regular meeting sufficiently apprised the public that the respondent would discuss the adoption of the written recommendation of the hearing officer regarding Laura Langello, and subsequently vote on the matter.

 

 

11.  It is also found that the respondent properly filed the agenda for the May 3, 2010 meeting, and did so in advance of the twenty-four hours notice required, pursuant to 1-225(c), G.S.  In fact, it is found that the agenda of the regular meeting was available to the public and filed at the offices of the respondent and the West Haven City Clerk, on April 29, 2010.

 

12.  Accordingly, it is 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 hereby dismissed.

 

 

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of March 9, 2011.

 

 

____________________________

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:

 

Laura Langello

C/o John R. Williams, Esq.

John R. Williams & Associates, LLC

51 Elm Street

New Haven, CT 06510

 

Board of Education,

West Haven Public Schools

C/o Floyd J. Dugas, Esq.

Berchem, Mosses & Devlin, PC

75 Broad Street

Milford, CT 06460

 

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

FIC/2010-301FD/sw/3/15/2011