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Final Decision FIC2014-834
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Bradshaw Smith,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2014-834
Christina Santos, President, Board of Education,
Windsor Public Schools; and Board of Education,
Windsor Public Schools,
     Respondents
July 22, 2015

     The above-captioned matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2014-857; Bradshaw Smith v. Anna Christina Santos, Chairperson, Executive Committee, Board of Education, Windsor Public Schools; Executive Committee, Board of Education, Windsor Public Schools; and Windsor Public Schools.  Both matters were heard as contested cases on May 20, 2015, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared 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 respondents are public agencies within the meaning of §1-200(1)(A), G.S.
     2.  It is found that, by letter dated November 4, 2014, the complainant made a request to respondent Santos for a copy of the “tentative agenda for the November 18, 2014 Board meeting, as was distributed at the Executive Committee meeting of November 3, 2014.”
     3.  It is found that, by letter dated and filed with the Commission on November 14, 2014, the complainant appealed to the Commission, alleging that the failure of the respondents to provide requested records violated the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”).  The complaint also requested the imposition of civil penalties against four named public officials.
     4.  Section 1-200(5), G.S., provides:
“Public records or files” means any recorded data or information relating to the conduct of the public’s business prepared, owned, used, received or retained by a public agency, or to which a public agency is entitled to receive a copy by law or contract under section 1-218, whether such data or information be handwritten, typed, tape-recorded, printed, photostated, photographed or recorded by any other method.
     5.  Sections 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., state, respectively, in relevant parts:
Except as otherwise provided by any federal law or state statute, all records maintained or kept on file by any public agency, whether or not such records are required by any law or by any rule or regulation, shall be public records and every person shall have the right to (1) inspect such records promptly during regular office or business hours, (2) copy such records in accordance with subsection (g) of section 1-212, or (3) receive a copy of such records in accordance with section 1-212. 
Any person applying in writing shall receive, promptly upon request, a plain, facsimile, electronic or certified copy of any public record. 
     6.  It is concluded that the requested records are “public records” within the meaning of §§1-200(5), 1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S.
     7.  It is found that the Executive Committee of the respondent Board of Education held a publicly noticed meeting on November 3, 2014 for the purpose of determining the agenda for the meeting of the respondent Board on November 18, 2014.  At the November 3, 2014 meeting of the Executive Committee, copies of a tentative agenda for the November 18, 2014 meeting of the full Board of Education were distributed for discussion.  (There was some evidence that the complainant attended this November 3, 2014 meeting).
     8.  It is also found that the respondents never acknowledged the complainant’s November 4, 2014 request.  The complainant testified that he was never provided with a copy of the tentative agenda that was considered at the November 3, 2014 meeting of the Executive Committee.  Respondents’ counsel argued, to the contrary, that the complainant was provided with a copy of the tentative agenda at the November 3, 2014 meeting.  (Respondents’ counsel further argued that the electronic copy of the draft agenda might have been overwritten when the final agenda was prepared).
     9.  It is concluded that the respondents violated §§1-210(a) and 1-212(a), G.S., by failing to provide to the complainant, in response to his November 4, 2014 request, a copy of the tentative agenda which they maintained, at least in the form of a paper copy.  “There is nothing in the Connecticut FOIA that bars repeating a request to a public agency.”  Mayor, City of Torrington v. Freedom of Information Commission, CV 01 0511803S, March 19, 2002, p. 8.  As Judge Cohn noted, “a complainant may have lost the document after the first request.”  In the present case, it would have been an exceedingly simple matter to mail the tentative agenda to the complainant.
     10. The Commission declines to order the imposition of a civil penalty.
     11. The complainant testified at the hearing that the Executive Committee, following its November 3, 2014 meeting, has been providing copies of the tentative agendas to members of the public at their meetings.  The Commission commends the respondents for making public records available promptly.
         
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
     1.  The respondents shall forthwith provide to the complainant a copy of the tentative agenda considered at the November 3, 2014 meeting of the Executive Committee, if a copy is still available.  If a copy is not still maintained, the respondents shall write a letter to the complainant so stating.
Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of July 22, 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:
Bradshaw Smith
23 Ludlow Road
Windsor, CT  06095
Christina Santos, President, 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

FIC/2014-834/FD/cac/7/22/2015