Author: Mark Sommaruga

PERSONNEL MATTERS, THE CONNECTICUT FOIA AND COMMON MISTAKES

Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) generally provides access to both meetings and records of public agencies.  The FOIA does provide an exception to the open meetings requirements for certain “personnel matters,” namely, discussions “concerning the appointment, employment, performance, evaluation, health or dismissal of a public officer or employee, provided that such individual may require…

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Developments From The 2018 Session of The Connecticut General Assembly: New Laws Affecting The Schools (and Public Employers)

On August 1, 2018, our firm posted on its website a summary of relevant legislation enacted by the Connecticut General Assembly during its 2018 regular session that will impact Connecticut schools.  Among other things, the General Assembly passed bills that: (1) revise the Student Data Privacy Act; (2) address budgetary issues stemming from attempts at…

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus v. AFSCME on “agency” or “service” fees for non-union members: What public sector employers must (immediately) know

As was discussed in our prior blog post and alert, the U.S. Supreme Court in Janus v. AFSCME,  585 U.S. ____ (June 27, 2018) just issued a ground breaking decision with respect to the collection of agency fees from non-union members, holding that the involuntary withholding of such monies violates the First Amendment “free speech”…

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LATEST DEVELOPMENTS FROM THE CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY ON EDUCATION RELATED LEGISLATION (AND A MARCH 8TH PUBLIC HEARING)

On Thursday, March 8, 2018, the General Assembly’s Education Committee will conduct a public hearing on the following proposed bills: S.B. No. 364 AN ACT CONCERNING SPECIAL EDUCATION FUNDING. This bill would lower the special education “excess cost” grant threshold from four and one-half times to two times the average per pupil educational costs of…

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SILENCE MATTERS: SCHOOL SAFETY, SECURITY PLANS AND THE CT FOIA

In the aftermath of another senseless and tragic school shooting, school districts are understandably looking inwards as they contemplate the need to adjust their security measures. I am frequently asked how school districts can consider their options while still complying with the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act [“FOIA”].  Fortunately, the FOIA contains protections for schools…

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THE LATEST ON ALTERNATIVE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR EXPELLED STUDENTS: THE GOOD, THE NOT SO GOOD, THE UNKNOWN, AND “FINAL” THOUGHTS.

We have previously written in these pages about the development of “guidelines” or “standards” by the State Board of Education for the provision of educational opportunities for expelled students.  Click here to read Part 1 & Part 2.  Having had just a (teeny) little bit of time to ponder the final version of these guidelines, which were…

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2017 LEGISLATIVE SUMMARY (PART TWO): THE BUDGET “IMPLEMENTER” AND ITS EFFECT ON CONNECTICUT’S SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC EMPLOYERS.

In 2017, our firm published a summary of new legislation affecting Connecticut’s schools and public sector employers. http://www.pullcom.com/news-publications-929.html  However, the 2017 “regular session” of the Connecticut General Assembly was not the final word. Due to the absence of a state budget, the General Assembly had to convene a “special session” and it was not until…

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Pullman & Comley’s School Law Practice Hosts Fall Special Education Legal Issues Forum

Attorneys Michael P. McKeon, Mark J. Sommaruga and Melinda B. Kaufmann of Pullman & Comley’s School Law Practice will be presenting at the firm’s semi-annual Special Education Legal Issues Forum on October 27, 2017 (registration and breakfast 7:30 AM – 8:00 AM; program 8:00 AM- 12:00 PM) at the offices of the Connecticut Association of Schools…

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And who is going to pay for it? The State’s new draft guidelines for educating expelled students

In 2016, Connecticut’s General Assembly passed Public Act 16-147: AN ACT CONCERNING THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE JUVENILE JUSTICE POLICY AND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE.  This Act made several changes to school discipline laws which were to take effect on August 15, 2017.  Most dramatically, the Act significantly increased the amount of instruction to be delivered to expelled…

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Liability for field trips: Munn v. Hotchkiss and ticks, Costa v. Plainville and basketball, and are there really any new obligations for public schools?

Last Friday (August 11, 2017), the Connecticut Supreme Court issued a decision garnering significant press attention in which it ruled that 1) Connecticut public policy imposes a duty upon schools to warn or protect against the risk of serious insect-borne disease when organizing trips abroad, and 2) a $41.5 million jury verdict with respect to…

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