FOI complaint filed against Board of Ed

A resident who says the Board of Education should have made more room for people seeking to attend the Jan. 22 Board of Education meeting has filed a complaint with the state Freedom of Information Commission.

In her complaint received on Jan. 23, Patricia Sperling said that visitors to the Board of Ed meeting were turned away after the main meeting room at Board of Education headquarters was filled.

Sperling said she contacted Schools Superintendent Janet Robinson on Jan. 16 to warn her that there would be a larger than expected crowd. Some residents have voiced concerns about what they see as a lack of transparency from the Board of Ed and Robinson.

“The meeting room was completely packed and parents overflowed to the hall to the point that the Fire Department put up a sign that closed out the meeting to any others wanting to attend,” Sperling said in her complaint letter.

“Additionally, the public was told during the public forum that they would be shut down if any comments were directed directly to the administration. Censorship at its finest,” Sperling added. “We cannot question the administration’s decision-making when it’s our tax dollars being spent.”

Sperling said people being turned away from the meeting by the at-capacity sign constitutes a freedom of information violation.

Some residents have urged the Board of Ed to conduct an audit to review spending patterns. The previous school board voted last August to scuttle plans to spend $50,000 for a forensic audit, citing that there was no money in place without a town budget. The current Town Council voted in December to pass a budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Robinson said Friday that she did not see that anyone’s access was denied. She also said that the Board of Ed did not have another venue to hold the meeting, pointing specifically to the now-closed Center School building.

Had the meeting been moved to Stratford High School, which is next door to Town Hall, Robinson said the Board of Ed would have had to pay overtime for staff  to set up the SHS auditorium.

“That’s not a good setting for a board meeting and we’re going to have to pay people overtime to have to set it up and it’s not going to be easy,” Robinson said.

The superintendent said the board had been alerted to a possible large turnout at a finance committee meeting and the large crowd did not show up.

“We have no way of telling [how many] people are going to to come” to a meeting, she said.

An official at the FOI Commission said if Sperling’s case is taken, it will be looked over and Sperling will not hear back for about four weeks. If the case is accepted, it will be delivered to an ombudsman for mediation. If nothing is resolved in a month, the case will go to a hearing, commission officials said.

About author
Editor for the Stratford Star. Former reporter for the Darien Times.

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

  • Danny Cook

    More corruption in BOE. Robinson needs to be fire. People should have the right to complain about her and other people involve with BOE and our education.

    • CT Sam

      Please explain why Robinson needs to be FIRE? If she’s fire, then who is water?

      • Danny Cook

        Fake CT SamnYour real name is?

    • doug douglas

      Melvin please remove this post claiming corruption. People like this give Stratford a bad name.

      • Lovejoy

        Many parents think so.

      • Danny Cook

        What do you call it?

    • Danny Cook

      Many people agree with me. Let Dr. Robinson explain how the BOE funds are spend.

  • Matthew Kascak

    Wow….so if I am reading this correctly, Dr. Robinson is partly basing the decision to not move the full BOE meeting to a larger venue on the fact that the BOE was alerted to a large turn out at the Finance Committee meeting that did not show up. Many of us were standing in the hall at the finance committee meeting, because of the fact that the committee used a rectangular table set-up in the public seating area of the room that only allowed for about 10 chairs for the public. If they had advanced notice of a possible large crowd, why did they make absolutely no effort to accommodate that possibility by simply having the committee members sit at the board seating on the dais? There is no reason that I can see for using the public seating area at a committee meeting (I have heard this is how they set up all committee meetings). I can pretty much guarantee that if they knew a large crowd was coming to say support a proposal, they would move the venue. At the full BOE meeting on the 22nd, Mr. Lazaro reiterated that “this is the space we have to work with.” Mrs. Lance joked about maybe making room for 11 public attendees instead of 10 at the next finance committee meeting. This is not a joke. I have heard the new make-up of the BOE understands the concerns and is willing to start to work at getting answers and addressing identified and/perceived problems. That is not the public message they are sending through their comments, body language and choices in what they do and don’t respond to so far. I know they will not respond to social media, but I have sent three letters to all board members since mid-December and I have received only one response (Thank you for your email) from one of seven members. Nothing of substance. I also so want to give Dr. Robinson the benefit of the doubt, but I keep hearing contradictions and platitudes coming from her whenever she speaks.

    • Patricia Clark Sperling

      Obviously Mr. Lazaro and Mrs. Lance do not want to take the public seriously. They should be aware that moving the meeting to Stratford High School would not have caused overtime, since SHS has a night crew of custodians. The meeting would have taken place during their regular work day.

    • No Transparency

      The reason why Dr. Robinson did not want to move to SHS because she was thinking of YOU, THE TAXPAYER and she didn’t want to WASTE YOUR TAX DOLLARS on O/T, don’t you get it! Why should we do this and allow more people to attend. The BOE wants to be non-transparent like the mayor’s administration, the Town Council and the police & fire departments who have blocked radio transmission to the public. Nobody cares!

    • Janet’s Puppets

      Lance & Lazaro, nuff said! Funny how when the Longbrook Park Commission meets in Room 213 and they had a large crowd to speak at the public forum, Mr. Farrington-Posner would move it out to the Council Chambers if it was available. But that will all change now with Tichy running the show, there will be no public forums at the meeting. Another reflection of the administration.

    • doug douglas

      How about just submitting a list of names and real signatures expressing whatever it is you want the board to be aware of. Have a spokesperson present it and live stream the meeting if you want people can watch at home or where ever they are. There is no need for all the people to just crowd up the place. I think we need to have video conferencing for the BOE this way members can participate from home and the public can watch too. This would eliminate the need to pay overtime or open a public building. This works at Sikorsky and that is a lot bigger than Stratford BOE.

      • Danny Cook

        You have many great interesting comments which we all agree with.

  • Patricia Clark Sperling

    Here is the clause from the Custodian’s CBA:nnIV.1 (b) of the Custodianu2019s Collective Bargaining Agreement states: u201cWhen night crews are scheduled to work in a building and there is an activity/activities scheduled, there will be no coverage other than the regularly scheduled night crew.u201dnnIn that reading, if the meeting were moved to Stratford High School, where a night crew exists, NO OVERTIME would have been necessary.nnAny school that does NOT have a night crew – there WOULD BE OVERTIME.nnAgain, a little misleading on her part.

    • CT Sam

      And YOU would know that since your husband was in the Custodian’s Union. The custodian’s at SHS & BHS do not get over time when there are athletic events there on their regular nights so what Janet said is a lying piece of bunk!

      • Patricia Clark Sperling

        Thank you for confirming that.

        • Danny Cook

          We all except the Fake CT Sam enjoy your great interesting comments. Thanks.

      • Danny Cook

        More MANURE and INSULTS coming from a well know LOSER.

    • SCR

      “A little misleading”? You’re far kinder than i. A superintendent should absolutely be aware of what the contracts state, especially given that said superintendent just recently negotiated furlough days for all school staff.

  • Danny Cook

    The BOE knows that when they have important public meetings, they know that a lot of people going to attend, therefore they should have meetings in the largest room in public buildings.

  • Carrie Walter

    I’m confused because on Monday December 18th, the meeting was moved from town hall to the auditorium at SHS due to large crowd.

    • Patricia Clark Sperling

      That was the Town Council meeting, not BOE Board meeting.

  • doug douglas

    This is a waste of time. Let the BOE do their job, the meetings are videoed and they post the minutes. Is the BOE suppose to rent out the Webster Arena for every meeting in case every parent wants to come? We have a representative democracy for a reason. Sperling and her crew what to wave some signs and kick up dust on the BOE’s work. The real involvement is done by the elected members of the board and professional educators like Dr. Robinson. Anyone can file an FOI but does it really have merit?

    • Patricia Clark Sperling

      Were YOU at the meeting? I was. We, as taxpayers, have a right to be at the meetings – not to see it after the fact on video. My “crew”? Who might that be? I don’t have a “crew” – I know many concerned parents and taxpayers. That doesn’t make us a crew.nnDid you see the sign on the locked door that wouldn’t allow any more people in? Moving the meeting to either the auditorium or cafeteria at Stratford High School would have cost nothing – no overtime. Dr. Robinson is incorrect in her statement that it would have cost overtime. Overtime is spent when meetings are in the Board of Ed building – did you know that?

      • doug douglas

        I don’t need to be at the meeting. I trust our elected officials will do the right thing and if I want to follow-up on the meeting I will read the minutes or email Dr. Robinson or her staff.nYou do have the right to be there but what purpose does it serve are you participating in the business being conducted?nMaybe it’s not your “crew” but any large group seems like they want to bully the BOE. How many of these people actually voted or attend PTA meetings at their local school. It seems like people just want their 15 minutes of fame.

        • Patricia Clark Sperling

          Do you REALLY think you’re going to get accurate information or what they choose to tell you? If we choose to turn a blind eye to spending, etc., then there is no one to blame but ourselves for the inaccuracies. And there are inaccuracies and false information coming out of the BOE.nnNo one is bullying the BOE. It’s more like the other way around.

          • TyronJ

            If they serve Popeye’s chicken in the cafe we will be there.

          • Lovejoy

            The food will taste better if it is free.

          • doug douglas

            Maybe you are not understanding the information. You make it sound like the BOE is dishonest and I can’t believe that without real proof. Too many people on this site throw around that stuff without proof and that really is dishonest.

          • Lovejoy

            Very true. We have the right to know about BOE spending.

      • Mitch

        That’s a great idea. Have it in the cafeteria and have them serve snacks and drinks to raise revenue. WIN, WIN for everyone.

        • Lovejoy

          Sounds good to me.

      • Lovejoy

        Many great comments which most of us agree with. The BOE meetings should be held in the largest room available. Dr. Robinson want us public not know what is going on with her and BOE.

      • Danny Cook

        I agree with you. The BOE should have meetings in the largest room available because they know that a lot of angry parents will show up and display their outrage and displeasure.

© HAN Network. All rights reserved. Stratford Star, 1000 Bridgeport Avenue, Shelton, CT 06484

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress