Petitioner alleged that the Town of Little Creek violated FOIA by not publishing Town Council meeting minutes on their website and by requiring her to visit the private residence of a Town official to review public documents. Held: The Town is not required by FOIA to post meeting minutes online because that provision applies only to the executive branch of state government. The Town violated FOIA’s requirement of “reasonable access” by requiring a citizen to visit a private residence for public documents. No remediation is required because the Town has since provided the documents by mail.
The petitioner alleged that the Brandywine School Board (the “Board”) violated FOIA by not making a public decision on whether to expunge a student’s record. Held: The Board action regarding a student’s request to expunge a record during executive session at the July 2015 Board Meeting violated FOIA. The Board denied that request by a vote or by consensus achieved while in executive session or in some other non-public forum. The Board is directed to either ratify the aforementioned decision in a public, regular session or formally reconsider the request for expungement and vote upon it in a manner consistent with the conclusions and determinations set forth herein.
The Complainant alleged the Town Council of Frankford (the “Council”) conducted an “open meeting” in violation of the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) on the basis of the absence of discussion of a proposed charter amendment eliminating a cap of fifteen percent of payroll on pension and health care benefits for town employees. The Town had continuously exceeded the cap for years, a fact that was discussed at least twice at public meetings attended by the Complainant. The proposed amendment simply eliminated the cap. Held: in the absence of evidence of a meeting of a quorum of the Council, serially or otherwise, there was no basis to conclude a violation of FOIA’s “open meetings” provision occurred.
Written on: May 4th, 2012 in 10002(g) Meeting
Against the City of Wilmington, requester alleged (i) impropriety of solicitation of proposals and awards of grant money, to which the DOJ responded that absent criminal conduct, not present here, the DOJ did not have jurisdiction to investigate such allegations; (ii) denial of access to records, about which it was determined that the City had conducted a diligent search for records and made all existing records available for inspection and copying; and (iii) violation of the open meetings requirements by opening one meeting to a grant applicant’s competitor, but not opening another meeting to the grant applicant, in response to which it was held that because the Mayor is a body of one, his office is exempt from the public meeting requirements of FOIA.
Written on: December 5th, 2011 in 10001 Declaration of Policy, 10002(g) Meeting, 10005(b) Statute of Limitations for Denial of Access to Records
Inmate of Department of Corrections sought records from the Department of Corrections. Held that public records do not include records of the Department of Corrections when sought by an inmate in the Department’s custody, so the records sought are not public records subject to disclosure.
Petitioner alleged that members of the Woodbridge School Board violated FOIA when three Board members attended a “Meet the Candidates” night and later when three Board members attended a Bond Committee hearing in Dover. Petitioner further alleged a FOIA violation when the Board voted on hiring a new superintendant on June 14, when the agenda did not include this action on the posted agenda. Held that the Board did not violate FOIA when three members attended other events because they did not discuss public business and did not meet “for the purpose” of discussing public business of the Board. The June 14 vote was a technical violation, but took place simply because the May meeting, for which the vote was on the agenda, ran late and all members of the public left before the vote occurred. Because the June vote was intended to ratify a prior, properly-noticed vote, no remediation was required.
Requester alleged that the Town of Dewey Beach had committed approximately 35 violations of FOIA. As to the allegations, held that the Town did not violate FOIA because (a) FOIA requires only that agenda include a general statement of major issues expected to be discussed, so agenda items were sufficient; (b) Town may remove an agenda item without any stated reason; (c) minutes are complete if they include the names of those present and a record of votes taken and action agreed upon, and the Town’s minutes met these requirements; (d) a meeting of a sub-quorum with townspeople was not subject to FOIA; and (e) a special meeting was properly noticed because no explanation was required. The Town committed a technical violation of FOIA because its minutes were not all timely prepared by the next meeting. However, there was no intentional failure to prepare the minutes, and the minutes had been provided, so no remediation was necessary.
Petitioner complained that the City of Newark violated FOIA when (1) the Mayor made an appointment to the Newark Housing Authority without a public meeting and without a vote of the City Council, (2) when the Mayor “conferred” with members of Council in person or via email, (3) when Petitioner was denied copies of those emails, and (4) when a focus group met without notice to the public. Petitioner further asked whether City violated FOIA by not providing copies of emails between Mayor and Council members sent and received on private computers through non-City email accounts. Held that the City of Newark did not violate FOIA because (1) the emails sought did not exist; (2) the mayor was not required to hold a public meeting because the Mayor was a body of one; (3) stakeholder meetings were not meetings of a public body because a City employee met informally with stakeholders to provide input about electric rate structure; and (4) personal emails that were not in the City’s possession were not public records.
Written on: December 15th, 2010 in 10002(g) Meeting, 10004(c) Requirements to Meet in Executive Session, 10004(e)(2) Notice Requirements for Regular Meetings, 10004(f) Minutes Requirements
Complainant assert that Town violated FOIA by not having public meetings of committee charged with selecting police chief, by not releasing applications for police chief position, and by the Town council having email discussions outside of public meeting relating to Town business. Town concedes that the subcommittee did not hold public meetings. Council concedes that members did exchange emails on Town business, but no vote was ever taken via email. HELD: Town violated FOIA by not having subcommittee hold public meetings concerning applications for selection of police chief. Town remedied the violation by holding public meeting. Town did not violate FOIA by not releasing applications. Those documents are confidential as records relating to job qualifications of applicants for public employment. Council emails did not violate FOIA because no votes were taken by email.
Written on: April 14th, 2010 in 10002(g) Meeting
Complainant asserts that District failed to post agenda for meeting and to keep meeting minutes. District agreed that no agenda was posted and no minutes were taken. District committed to posting agendas and keeping minutes going forward.