Final Decision FIC2014-832
In the Matter of a Complaint by
||Docket #FIC 2014-832|
Darlene Klase, Paul Panos, and
Christina Santos, as Members,
Executive Committee, Board
of Education, Windsor Public
Schools; and Board of Education,
Windsor Public Schools,
August 26, 2015
The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on May 20, 2015, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint. For purposes of hearing, this matter was consolidated with Docket #FIC 2014-831, Bradshaw Smith v. Christina Santos, President, Board of Education, Windsor Public Schools; and Board of Education, Windsor Public Schools.
At its August 12, 2015 regular meeting, the Commission considered, but did not adopt, an earlier Report of Hearing Officer, dated July 16, 2015. After discussion, the Commission voted to remand the matter back to the hearing officer for the purpose of amending the report in accordance with such discussion.
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 of complaint dated and filed November 14, 2014, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the agenda for the respondents’ November 3, 2014 meeting included an “improper agenda item,” because it does not “meet the test” set forth in Zoning Board of Appeals of the Town of Plainfield v. FOIC, Superior Court, Docket No. CV 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 complainant also requested the imposition of a civil penalty.
3. Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides, in relevant part:
[t]he meetings of all public agencies, except executive sessions, as defined in subdivision (6) of section 1-200, shall be open to the public….
4. Section 1-200(2), G.S., provides in relevant part that:
“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. “Meeting” does not include...communication limited to notice of meetings of any public agency or the agendas thereof. (Emphasis added).
5. It is found that, on November 3, 2014, the members of the respondent executive committee gathered for the purpose of discussing the items to be included on the agenda for the November 18, 2014 meeting of the respondent board (the “gathering”). It is found that the respondents publically noticed the gathering, the agenda for which stated:
1. Call to order
2. Set the agenda for the regular board meeting on November 18, 2014
6. It is found that, at the gathering, the members of the respondent executive committee discussed the items to be included on the agenda for the November 18, 2014 meeting of the respondent board. It is concluded that, pursuant to §1-200(2), G.S., such discussion did not constitute a “meeting.” It is further found that, at the gathering, the members of the respondent executive committee did not discuss or act upon any matter over which they have supervision, control, jurisdiction, or advisory power.
7. The Commission notes that the Zoning Board of Appeals Board decision, cited by the complainant, articulates the standard for determining whether an agenda for a meeting of a public agency is sufficiently detailed to apprise the public of the action to be taken at such meeting. Thus, it is inapposite to the analysis of the issue in the present case.
8. Based upon the foregoing, it is concluded that the respondents 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 August 26, 2015.
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:
23 Ludlow Road
Windsor, CT 06095
Darlene Klase, Paul Panos, and Christina Santos, as Members,
Executive 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
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission