Gallucci v. Chairman, Governing Board, Great Path Academy at Manchester Community College
Discussion of a competitive request for proposal process and related next steps, as opposed to the bids received themselves, is not a permitted topic for executive session. Denise Gallucci, deputy executive director of Capital Region Education Council, and superintendent of CREC schools, appealed to the Freedom of Information Commission alleging that the respondents, including the Governing Board, Great Path Academy at Manchester Community College and its chairwoman, violated the Freedom of Information Act by convening an executive session using improper procedures and for improper purposes and by wrongfully excluding the complainant from said session. The FOIC found that CREC had managed Great Path Academy located at Manchester Community College since 2004. In 2011, the college developed a personal services agreement for the academy's management to be awarded through an RFP. CREC and the Hartford Public Schools submitted proposals. The governing board held a special public meeting. The agenda indicated that the board would hold an executive session including to discuss the RFP process and personnel. During the meeting, the chairwoman asked CREC representatives to leave. The board convened in executive session. E. Brad Noel, a member of both the Hartford board of education and governing board, attended with the RFP selection committee. During the meeting, the respondent chairwoman determined that the Hartford board would replace CREC. The FOIC concluded that the respondents violated C.G.S. §1-225(f) by failing to make a motion to move into executive session, accompanied by a public statement about matters planned for discussion, violated C.G.S. §1-231(a) by failing to keep a record of individuals in attendance and violated C.G.S. §1-225(a) by failing to reconvene in a public session before voting to adjourn. Although the respondents did not discuss personnel matters, they technically violated C.G.S. §1-225(c) by using the generic agenda item, "Personnel." The respondents violated C.G.S. §1-200(6) by discussing the RFP process and related next steps, as opposed to the bids themselves, in executive session. The respondent chairwoman did not have the authority under the FOIA to remove Noel. The respondents violated C.G.S. §1-231(a) by allowing RFP committee members to attend the entire executive session. The FOIC declined to issue civil penalties but ordered FOIA training sessions.