Author: Mark Sommaruga

Warning-Your E-mail Just Became a Meeting: Mauer v. Member, Board of Education, Regional School District No. 1 and The Dangers of Using The “Send”, “Reply“ and (Especially) “Reply All” Buttons

Often times, I will warn school board members against the use of e-mail to conduct board business.  My primary concern is that such e-mails could be deemed to constitute an illegal un-noticed/non-public meeting, in violation of the Freedom of Information Act [“FOIA”].  A recent decision of the Freedom of Information Commission [“FOIC”] further highlights this…

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The FOIA and Superintendent Evaluations: Toensing and The Various Components of The Evaluation

When evaluating superintendents of schools, school boards usually seek to synthesize the views of individual board members into a collective voice for the board.  In Toensing v. Chairman, All Boards Chairs Committee, Regional School District #1, #FIC 2013-223 (February 11, 2014), however, the Freedom of Information Commission [“FOIC”] reminded us that there are Freedom of…

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LATEST DEVELOPMENTS FROM THE CONNECTICUT GENERAL ASSEMBLY: The Education Committee Speaks

Before the deadline for committee action, the General Assembly’s Education Committee voted favorably on and advanced out of committee a plethora of bills. Among the most noteworthy were: 1) a bill that would delay the implementation of the uniform regional calendar, 2) a bill giving greater discretion to school boards with regard to expunging an…

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SEMINAR: “Special Education Law in Connecticut”

Pullman and Comley School Law section attorneys Mark J. Sommaruga and Michael McKeonwill be speaking at a PESI Continuing Education Seminar.  They will discuss how to: avoid common procedural mistakes under the IDEA and Section 504, draft IEPs that comply with the law, limit potential liability for both the district and staff members and learn practical tips for compliance with the law. Friday, April 25,…

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OOPS and the FOIA, Part 2: Dacey v. Easton Board of Education and the Need For a Subcommittee to Comply With The FOIA

There are times where a public agency may get so caught up with solving an existing problem that it will lose sight of the need to comply fully with the Freedom of Information Act [“FOIA”] and thus create what could potentially be an even bigger problem.  In this vein, a recent Freedom of Information Commission…

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Oops and the FOIA, Part One; Kadri v. Groton Board of Education and Protections From the Accidental Disclosure of Attorney-Client Privileged Documents

What happens when your agency’s lawyer sends out a confidential letter that is somehow leaked? A relatively recent decision by the Freedom of Information Commission [“FOIC”] appears to indicate that all is not lost, as “inadvertent” or “unexplainable” releases of otherwise privileged communication from your attorney will not destroy the attorney-client privilege. The FOIC’s decision…

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Latest Developments From The Connecticut General Assembly

The General Assembly’s Education Committee is conducting a public hearing on March 3, 2014.  The Committee will consider testimony on bills that, among other things: 1) require school districts to adopt policies or enter into memoranda of understanding with law enforcement agencies concerning the use of law enforcement personnel as school resource officers, 2) require…

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School District’s Refusal to Release Bullying Investigation Report Upheld

While the Freedom of Information Act [“FOIA”] generally seeks to provide access to records created by public agencies, and while anti-bullying laws require that parents be notified by a school district with regard  to the district’s response to bullying complaints, federal laws protecting the privacy rights of students provide a countervailing block to unfettered access…

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Mirabilio v. Regional School District 16: Reduction in Hours v. Termination of Employment

In these fiscal times, school districts are confronted with difficult choices in restructuring their teaching workforce, with districts often having to consider the elimination of teaching positions.  A recent court case reminds us all that there is a middle ground, namely, the reduction of hours of teachers In Mirabilio v. Regional School District 16, 2013…

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Bridgeport Board of Education v. NAEG, Local RI-200: What is the Appropriate Punishment for Actual and Perceived Threats in the Workplace?

We have all been emotionally touched by the tragedies in Columbine and Sandy Hook, not to mention workplace shootings such as those at Hartford Distributors and the Connecticut Lottery.  In that context, employers (and especially school administrators) have been ever mindful of warning signs of potential violence.  However, these same actors must counterbalance the need…

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