Topic: The Freedom of Information Act

Just The Facts: Charter Schools (and Cutting Through Some Myths and Hot Air)

As anyone reading the newspapers can observe, Connecticut charter schools are receiving some unwanted attention these days due to: 1) a myriad of issues involving a charter school management company; and 2) virulent attacks from, among others, those who either currently hold or who hope to attain political office. Once politically favored by both major…

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Tales From The Green Room: My FOIA Book, My Television Interview and Why Public Agencies Should Care

On June 7th, 2014, I had the good fortune of being the guest on Focus on Connecticut, which is a weekly, half-hour public affairs show on “News 12 Connecticut.”    The show is hosted by Tom Appleby, a veteran news journalist in the best sense of those terms. The purpose of my appearance was to discuss…

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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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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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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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New Board Members’ Homework

It is that time of year when newly elected board of education members are settling in to their positions and starting to assume responsibility for overseeing their respective municipality’s public school district.  To help ease the process, recently elected school board members should take the time to become familiar with the following: • Board bylaws…

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