Page 544 (http://sunshinereview.org/images/8/8c/Woodstock.pdf )
181 Conn. 544 (Conn. 1980)
436 A.2d 266
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF WOODSTOCK ACADEMY et al.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION COMMISSION et al.Supreme Court of Connecticut.
July 22, 1980
Argued May 13, 1980.
- Donald W. Strickland, Hartford, for appellants (plaintiffs).
- Constance L. Chambers, Asst. Gen. Counsel, Meriden, with whom, on the brief, was [436 A.2d 267]
Mitchell W. Pearlman, Gen. Counsel, Hartford, for appellee (named defendant).
Martha Stone, West Hartford, with whom was Donna D. Morris, for appellees (defendants Ernest M. St. Jean et al.).
[This suggests that CPS filed the original complaint with the FOI Commission]
Before COTTER, C. J., and BOGDANSKI, PETERS, HEALEY and PARSKEY, JJ. COTTER, Chief Justice.
Exerpts: “Since Woodstock Academy performs a basic governmental function in providing public education at a secondary school level, is nearly entirely (over ninety-five percent) publicly financed, has its operations examined and certified by the state board of education so as to be eligible for reimbursement for tuition fees by local towns and for other statutory benefits, and is an entity created by statute for the sole purpose of maintaining a public school for the benefit of the inhabitants of Woodstock and other towns in the vicinity, it must be considered a public agency for purposes of this state’s FOIA.” AND “It would be anomalous if Woodstock Academy could avoid the requirements of the FOIA and not disclose its financial records to those persons who fund its operation in light of its extensive involvement with state and town government.”
The plaintiffs Woodstock Academy, its board of trustees and its officers appeal from a judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Bernstein, J., sustaining a decision of the defendant freedom of information commission that Woodstock Academy was a “public agency” within the meaning of the Freedom of Information Act (hereafter the FOIA). Since the FOIA subjects only public agencies to its disclosure requirements; General Statutes § 1-19(a); this case presents, as a matter of first impression, the significant question of what may constitute a “public agency” for purposes of the FOIA.
The defendants Ernest St. Jean, Vernon Fuerst and Robert Peabody, in their private capacities as public taxpayers in the town of Woodstock and as representatives of the Woodstock taxpayers association, filed a complaint with the freedom of information commission after the plaintiffs had failed to comply with the defendants’ request for the present
and past financial operating records of Woodstock Academy. After a series of hearings the commission determined that the Woodstock Academy was subject to its jurisdiction because it was a public agency within the meaning of the FOIA and that the information sought by the defendant citizen group constituted public records. The commission then directed the plaintiffs to comply with defendants’ request. Upon appeal from these rulings, the trial court affirmed the decision of the commission.
The sole issue raised by the plaintiffs on this appeal is whether the trial court erred in concluding that the defendant freedom of information commission acted legally in determining that Woodstock Academy is a “public agency” within the meaning of General Statutes § 1-18a(a).
The trial court’s finding, read in the light of the memorandum of decision, reveals the following:
Woodstock Academy, which is located in the town of Woodstock, was established by special corporate charter of the Connecticut state legislature in 1802. The charter, as amended by the legislature in 1933, provides that the academy’s sole purpose is to operate a school for the inhabitants of the town and the vicinity. [1; see footnotes] Since Woodstock has no public high school of its own, the town’s board of education, pursuant to General Statutes § 10-33,  designates, Read the rest of this entry »