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Final Decision FIC2015-268
In the Matter of a Complaint by
FINAL DECISION
Lisa Labella,
     Complainant
     against
Docket #FIC 2015-268
Chairman, Board of Education, Trumbull
Public Schools; and Board of Education,
Trumbull Public Schools,
     Respondents
October 28, 2015

     The above-captioned matter was heard as a contested case on July 13, 2015, at which time the complainant and the respondents appeared, stipulated to certain facts and presented testimony, exhibits and argument on the complaint.  The matter was consolidated for hearing with Docket #FIC 2015-165; Lisa Labella v. Board of Education, Town of Trumbull; and Town of Trumbull
     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 filed April 15, 2015, the complainant appealed to this Commission, alleging that the respondents violated the Freedom of Information (“FOI”) Act by convening in executive session for an improper purpose during their meeting of March 24, 2015.
     3.  Section 1-225(a), G.S., provides in relevant part:   “The 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(6), G.S., defines “executive session” as: 
[A] meeting of a public agency at which the public is excluded for one or more of the following purposes: …  (E)  discussion of any matter which would result in the disclosure of public records or the information contained therein described in subsection (b) of section 1-210.
     5.  Section 1-210(b)(10), G.S., exempts from mandatory disclosure “[r]ecords … or communications privileged by the attorney-client relationship …”
     6.  It is found that the agenda of the respondents’ March 24, 2015 meeting stated that an executive session was anticipated “for the purpose of discussing an opinion of the Board of Education attorney.”
     7.  Section 1-231(b), G.S., provides:
An executive session may not be convened to receive or discuss oral communications that would otherwise be privileged by the attorney-client relationship if the agency were a nongovernmental entity, unless the executive session is for a purpose explicitly permitted pursuant to subdivision (6) of section 1-200. (Emphasis added.)
     8.  It is found that the respondents’ attorney prepared a written confidential legal memorandum for the respondent chairman and the respondents’ superintendent that contained advice concerning international student travel and also issues relating to the respondents’ meetings’ “consent agenda.”
     9.  It is found that the respondents voted unanimously to convene in executive session to discuss such memorandum and it is found that the respondents discussed the memorandum in executive session.
     10. Although the agenda does not state that the respondents anticipated an executive session to discuss a written legal opinion, it is found that they did discuss a written communication that was privileged by the attorney-client relationship within the meaning of §1-210(b)(10), G.S.
     11. It is concluded that §1-231, G.S., did not prohibit the respondents’ executive session.
     12. It is also concluded that §1-200(6)(E), G.S., permitted the respondents to convene in executive session to discuss their attorney’s written memorandum.
     13. It is concluded that the respondents did not violate §1-225(a), G.S.
     14. Although the issue of sufficient notice was not clearly raised in this matter, the Commission observes that a more detailed explanation in the agenda about the subject of the privileged written communication would have provided to the public better information concerning the nature of the business transacted in executive session. 
     The following order by the Commission is hereby recommended on the basis of the record concerning the above-captioned complaint:
     1.  The complaint is dismissed.

Approved by Order of the Freedom of Information Commission at its regular meeting of October 28, 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:
Lisa Labella
9 Sally Ann Drive
Trumbull, CT  06611
Chairman, Board of Education, Trumbull Public Schools;
and Board of Education, Trumbull Public Schools
c/o Floyd J. Dugas, Esq.
Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.
75 Broad Street
Milford, CT  06460
____________________________
Cynthia A. Cannata
Acting Clerk of the Commission
FIC/2015-268/FD/cac/10/28/2015