FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION
OF THE STATE OF CONNECTICUT

In the Matter of a Complaint by FINAL DECISION
George C. Schober,    
  Complainant  
  against   Docket #FIC 2011-197

Maynard M. Suffredini, Jr., Superintendent,

Somers Public Schools; David Palmer, as

Chairman, Board of Education, Somers

Public Schools; Joan Formeister, member,

Board of Education, Somers Public Schools;

Richard Lees, Jr., member, Board of

Education, Somers Public Schools;

Bruce Devlin, member, Board of

Education, Somers Public Schools;

John Taylor, member, Board of Education,

Somers Public Schools; Timothy Potrikus,

member, Board of Education, Somers Public

Schools; Sarah Bollinger, member, Board of

Education, Somers Public Schools; Anne

Kirkpatrick, member, Board of Education,

Somers Public Schools; Mary Beth Marquardt,

member, Board of Education, Somers Public Schools,

and Board of Education, Somers Public Schools,

 
  Respondents September 14, 2011
       

 

The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on August 16, 2011 at which time the complainant appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The respondents did not appear for the contested case hearing.

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.      By letter dated March 4, 2011 and filed on March 7, 2011, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOI Act”) in the following ways:

A.    First, that the agenda for the March 7, 2011 special meeting of the BOE’s policy committee did not fairly apprise the public that the committee intended to discuss Transportation Policy 3541.3.  The complainant further alleges that the committee failed to make a proper motion to add this issue to its March 7, 2011 meeting prior to discussing it.  The complainant also alleges that Superintendent Suffredini, Jr. handed out a proposed revision to Transportation Policy 3541.3 at the March 7, 2011 meeting, but refused to provide a copy of the revision to the complainant.  Finally, the complainant alleges that Superintendent Suffredini, Jr. instructed the committee members to review the proposed revisions and report back to him, but did not mention when or in what forum the members were to report back to him.

B.     Second, that the agenda for the March 14, 2011 regular meeting of the BOE failed to fairly apprise the public that the BOE intended to discuss Transportation Policy 3541.3. 

C.     Third, that the BOE failed to follow its bylaws with regard to the procedure applicable to amending a transportation policy and/or failed to follow its bylaws with regard to procedure for suspending the bylaws applicable to amending a transportation policy.

3.      In his complaint, the complainant seeks the imposition of civil penalties against Superintendent Suffredini, Jr.; Board Chairman Palmer; Board Vice Chairman Formeister; and Mr. Devlin.  The complainant requests that the Commission require Superintendent Suffredini, Jr. and all the BOE members to attend a FOI training session.  Finally, the complainant requests that the Commission issue an order declaring null and void the BOE’s new transportation policy. 

4.      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.

5.      With regard to the complainant’s allegations in paragraph 2.A, above, it is found that these same allegations with regard to the respondents’ March 7, 2011 meeting were raised by the complainant against the same respondents in a previous case.  The Commission takes administrative notice of Docket #FIC 2011-153; George C. Schober v. Maynard M. Suffredini, Jr., Superintendent, Somers Public Schools, et al.  Because these issues were fully adjudicated and decided after a contested case hearing in the previous matter, the Commission will not consider these issues further in this decision. 

6.      With regard to the complainant’s allegations in paragraph 2.B, above, it is found that the respondents’ agenda for their March 14, 2011 meeting lists an action item for “new business.”

 

7.      It is further found that during the March 14, 2011 meeting, BOE member Anne Kirpatrick made a motion to add to the agenda consideration of revisions to Transportation Policy 3541.3 and to add to the agenda consideration of forgoing any procedures that would prevent immediate revision to said policy.  It further found that BOE member Bruce Devline seconded such motion, and thereafter the motion was unanimously approved.  It is found that, at this time, these matters were discussed under the agenda item for “new business.”  It is finally found that the minutes accurately reflect the motion made and action taken with regard to the revision of Transportation Policy 3541.3. 

 

8.      While the complainant asserts that the respondents should have included a specific agenda item for revision to Transportation Policy 3541.3 on their March 14, 2011 agenda, it is found that this meeting was a regular meeting and that, therefore, the respondents took the proper steps to add to this agenda additional items of business. 

 

9.      It is therefore concluded that the respondents did not violate the provisions of 1-225(d), G.S., when they decided to add an additional item of business to their March 14, 2011 meeting agenda. 

 

10.  Finally, with regard to the complainant’s allegations in paragraph 2.C, above, it is found that the FOI Act does not give the Commission the jurisdiction to determine whether and to what degree the respondents comply with their own bylaws for amending policies or suspending procedures.    

 

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

 

1.  The complainant is dismissed.

 

 

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of September 14, 2011.

 

__________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

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:

 

George C. Schober, Esq.

352 Billings Road

P.O. Box 597

Somers, CT  06071

 

Maynard M. Suffredini, Jr., Superintendent, Somers Public Schools;

David Palmer, Chairman, Board of Education, Somers Public Schools;

Joan Formeister, member, Board of Education, Somers Public Schools;

Richard Lees, Jr., member, Board of Education, Somers Public Schools;

Bruce Devlin, member, Board of Education, Somers Public Schools;

John Taylor, member, Board of Education, Somers Public Schools;

Timothy Potrikus, member, Board of Education, Somers Public Schools;

Sarah Bollinger, member, Board of Education, Somers Public Schools;

Anne Kirkpatrick, member, Board of Education, Somers Public Schools;

Mary Beth Marquardt, member, Board of Education, Somers Public Schools;

and Board of Education, Somers Public Schools

c/o William R. Connon, Esq.

Sullivan, Schoen, Campane & Connon, LLC

646 Prospect Avenue

Hartford, CT  06105

 

 

 

____________________________

Cynthia A. Cannata

Acting Clerk of the Commission

 

 

 

 

 

FIC/2011-197/FD/cac/9/14/2011