FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION

Sauda Baraka, Maria Pereira, and

Bobby Simmons,

 
  Complainants  
  against   Docket #FIC 2010-644

Barbara Bellinger, President, Board of

Education, Bridgeport Public Schools; 

Leticia Colon, Vice President, Board of

Education, Bridgeport Public Schools;

Delores Fuller, Secretary, Board of

Education, Bridgeport Public Schools;

Thomas Cunningham, Patrick Crossin,

and Nereyda Robles, as members, Board

of Education, Bridgeport Public Schools;

and Board of Education, Bridgeport Public

Schools,  

 
  Respondents August 10, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on February 8, 2011, at which time the complainants and the respondents 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 2010-582; Sauda Baraka, Maria Pereira and Bobby Simmons v. Barbara Bellinger, President, Board of Education, Bridgeport Public Schools; Leticia Colon, Vice President, Board of Education, Bridgeport Public Schools; Delores Fuller, Secretary, Board of Education, Bridgeport Public Schools; Thomas Cunningham, as Member, Board of Education, Bridgeport Public Schools; Patrick Crossin, as Member, Board of Education, Bridgeport Public Schools; Nereyda Robles, as Member, Board of Education, Bridgeport Public Schools; and Board of Education, Bridgeport Public Schools

 

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 the complainants are also members of the respondent board of education.

 

            3.   It is found that, on January 21, 2010, the complainants requested that the respondents provide them with copies of the minutes of executive sessions of two meetings of the respondent board: December 14, 2009 and January 11, 2010.      

 

            4.   It is found that, on February 10, 2010, the complainants requested that the respondents provide them with copies of the minutes of five meetings of the respondent board and its subcommittees:  the Personnel Committee meeting of January 19, 2010; the special Board of Education meeting of January 21, 2010, the Policy Committee meeting of January 27, 2010, the special Board of Education meeting of February 1, 2010 and the Finance Committee meeting of February 2, 2010.   It is also found that the complainants repeated this request on February 20, 2010, adding a request for the minutes of the February 3, 2010, Facilities Committee meeting and the February 11, 2010 meeting of the Security Committee.   On February 26, 2010, the complainants again reiterated their request in writing

 

            5.  It is found that the respondents thereafter provided partial compliance to the complainants, and that the complainants continued to seek past minutes of the Board and its subcommittees.

 

            6.  It is found that, by email dated September 18, 2010, the complainant Pereira informed the respondents that she was still seeking minutes of several meetings of the respondent board and its subcommittees for the years 2009 and 2010 and provided the respondents with a three-page list of the requested minutes.

 

            7.  It is found that, thereafter, the respondents provided the complainants and all other members of the respondent board with packets of past minutes on a rolling basis on the Fridays before board meetings.

 

            8.  By letter dated and filed October 15, 2010, the complainants appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOI Act”) by failing to provide them with all requested minutes.  The complainants requested the imposition of civil penalties against the named respondents. 

 

            9.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents contended that the complaint in this matter encompasses only those meeting minutes described in paragraphs 3 and 4, above.  However, a fair reading of the complaint provides that the meetings described in paragraphs 3 and 4, above, as well as those set forth in the three-page list referenced in paragraph 6, above, are encompassed within the complaint.

 

            10.  Section 1-200, G.S., provides the following definitions:

 

(1)  “Public agency” or “agency” means: (A) Any executive, administrative or legislative office of the state or any political subdivision of the state and any state or town agency, any department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official of the state or of any city, town, borough, municipal corporation, school district, regional district or other district or other political subdivision of the state, including any committee of, or created by, any such office, subdivision, agency, department, institution, bureau, board, commission, authority or official, and also includes any judicial office, official, or body or committee thereof but only with respect to its or their administrative functions…

[Emphasis added]

 

(2)  “Meeting” means any hearing or other proceeding of a public agency, any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multimember public agency, and any communication by or to a quorum of a multimember public agency, whether in person or by means of electronic equipment, to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power….

 

            11.  Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides:

 

The meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions, as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, shall be open to the public.  The votes of each member of any such public agency upon any issue before such public agency shall be reduced to writing and made available for public inspection within forty-eight hours and shall also be recorded in the minutes of the session at which taken.  Not later than seven days after the date of the session to which such minutes refer, such minutes shall be available for public inspection and posted on such public agency's Internet web site, if available, except that no public agency of a political subdivision of the state shall be required to post such minutes on an Internet web site.  Each public agency shall make, keep and maintain a record of the proceedings of its meetings.

 

            12.   It is found that the respondents have provided the complainants with copies of all minutes which are in existence which they maintain or keep on file, that have been requested.

 

            13.  At the hearing in this matter, the respondents stipulated that, prior to 2010, the respondents did not create minutes of its subcommittee meetings or of any special meetings of the respondent board.  Rather, the respondent board only kept minutes of its regular meetings.  It is found that, after the issue of proper minutes-keeping arose among the members of the respondent board in 2010, the respondent board set a new policy whereby it keeps minutes of all subcommittee and board special and regular meetings.

 

            14.  It is concluded that the respondents violated 1-225(a), G.S., by failing to keep accurate minutes of all of its meetings.

 

            15.  The Commission declines to consider the imposition of a civil penalty in this matter.

           

            The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:

 

            1.  Henceforth, the respondents shall strictly comply with the requirements of 1-225(a), G.S.

           

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of August 10, 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:

 

Sauda Baraka

85 Pinepoint Drive

Bridgeport, CT 06606

 

Maria Pereira

570 Ezra Street

Bridgeport, CT 06604

 

Bobby Simmons

2163 Main Street

Bridgeport, CT 06606

 

Barbara Bellinger, President, Board of

Education, Bridgeport Public Schools; 

Leticia Colon, Vice President, Board of

Education, Bridgeport Public Schools;

Delores Fuller, Secretary, Board of

Education, Bridgeport Public Schools;

Thomas Cunningham, as Member,

Board of Education, Bridgeport Public

Schools; Patrick Crossin, as Member,

Board of Education, Bridgeport Public

Schools; Nereyda Robles, as Member,

Board of Education, Bridgeport Public

Schools; and Board of Education,

Bridgeport Public Schools

C/o Edmund F. Schmidt, Esq.

Assistant City Attorney

Office of the City Attorney

999 Broad Street

Bridgeport, CT 06604

 

 

____________________________

S. Wilson

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

FIC/2010-644FD/sw/8/17/2011