In the Matter of a Request
    for Advisory Opinion





)     Advisory Opinion   #2



Stephen J. Papa, Applicant

)     November 14, 1975








At its meeting of November 12, 1975, the Commission agreed to furnish an advisory opinion to Stephen J. Papa as president of the Board of Education of the City of New Haven. The applicant transmitted to the Commission a letter and a newspaper clipping from all of which the following facts are found.

Prior to the time of commencement of meetings in the notice published by that public agency, the members of the Board of Education meet and discuss committee reports and other miscellaneous school matters. No mention of this preliminary convening is made in the notices of the meetings. The public agency calls itself to order at the time listed in the notice and thereafter discusses and votes on whatever matters appear on the agenda. Subsequent to the meeting at various times, the Board meets with the superintendent and other members of the staff to discuss various matters encompassed by the governmental authority of the Board of Education. No minutes are kept concerning the discussions that occur prior to the hour when the meeting is "called to order". The gatherings subsequent to the scheduled meetings have been characterized as a reconvening of the Board meeting at the office of the Superintendent of schools. The events that occur in such reconvened meetings are not incorporated in the minutes of the School Board.




The Commission concludes that the convenings of the Board prior to the hour when the meeting is called to order and after the formal adjournment are, in fact, meetings for the reasons that follow. A meeting is any convening or assembly of a quorum of a multi‑member public agency to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power. The definition does not include any chance meeting or social meeting that is neither planned or intended for the purpose of discussing matters relating to official business.


On the basis of the facts presented by the applicant, the Commission enters the following order as its advisory ruling:


1. The facts submitted clearly indicate that the gatherings prior to the "official meeting" are not chance encounters and that at those gatherings the public business is discussed within the meaning of Section l(b) of the Act. As a consequence, it must follow that the notice of the meeting must refer to the fact that the meeting will convene at the hour when the preliminary session begins, stating the place and other relevant details required by Sections 6 and 7 of the Act. Also, minutes must be kept to show what matters were discussed and the names of the members who were present making up the quorum then and there in attendance.


2. The gathering of public agency members at a time and place following the meeting must also be found to be a meeting if a quorum is present to discuss or act upon a matter over which the public agency has supervision, control, jurisdiction or advisory power. In the event that such a convening occurs, it may be treated as an adjourned meeting for the sake of convenience; or it may be treated as a "special meeting". In either case the convening after the adjournment of the meeting is subject to the same statutory requirements concerning notice and the keeping of minutes and the access of the public as is any other meeting of the public agency.


                                                                                              By Order of the Freedom of
                                                                                              Information Commission


                                                                                              Herbert Brucker, Chairman of
                                                                                              of the Freedom of Information