Permanent Changes to the FOIA Regarding Remote and Hybrid Meetings
Remote Meeting

On April 28, 2022, Governor Lamont signed Public Act 22-3, which makes permanent changes to Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) so as to preserve the ability of public agencies (such as school boards) to conduct “remote” and “hybrid” meetings.  The Act largely mirrors the temporary provisions which were set to expire on April 30, 2022.  Here are the highlights of Public Act 22-3.

The Continued Remote/Hybrid Meetings Option: A board can continue to hold (if it so chooses) meetings that are accessible to the public through 1) electronic equipment only (i.e., remote meetings) or 2) remote participation in conjunction with an in-person meeting (i.e., hybrid meetings).  For these meetings, boards must use technology that “facilitates real-time public access to meetings,” such as “telephonic, video or other conferencing platforms.” While most boards have provided “Zoom” style video access to their remote meetings, an audio-only option is permissible.

Regular Meeting Notice/Posting Requirements.  If a board intends to conduct a remote or hybrid regular meeting, it must provide at least 48 hours 1) advance written or electronic notification to each board member and 2) notice to the public that is posted in its office, the applicable town clerk’s office and on its website.  Boards still must post agendas for these meetings at least 24 hours in advance; the notice/agenda must include instructions for the public on accessing the meeting.

Special Meetings:  A notice of a special meeting must be posted 24 hours in advance and indicate whether it will be conducted solely or in part via electronic equipment (with instructions for accessing the meeting).

Public Access For Remote Regular Meetings: If a board conducts a meeting (other than an executive session or special meeting) solely by means of electronic equipment, it must 1) provide any member of the public (upon a written request at least 24 hours in advance of the meeting) with a physical location and electronic equipment necessary to attend  the meeting in real-time, 2) record or transcribe the meeting (excluding portions held in executive session), with any transcription/recording to be posted on its website and made available to the public in the board’s office (along with the meeting minutes) no later than seven days after the meeting and for at least 45 days thereafter; and 3) if a quorum of board members attends a meeting via electronic equipment from the same physical location, permit the public to attend the meeting in that location.  
NOTE: Boards are not required to provide such access/equipment for in-person or hybrid meetings, since the public can access such meetings by merely showing up.

Public Comments (If You Have Them): Members of the public attending remotely must be provided with the same opportunity to provide comment and participate in the meeting that they would be accorded if it was in-person.  Conversely, boards are NOT required to offer persons attending a meeting remotely the opportunity for comment if they are not required by law for persons attending in-person.  Nothing in the FOIA requires a board to have public comments.   

Board Member Remote Participation: Preserving an absolute right that emerged during the pandemic, board members must be provided the opportunity to participate in meetings remotely (even at an otherwise in-person meeting).  However, boards are not required to adjourn or postpone a meeting if a member loses the ability to participate because of issues with that member's electronic connection, unless the member's participation is necessary for a quorum.  Unless unanimous, votes taken at a meeting at which any board member participates remotely shall be taken by rollcall.  Meeting minutes must identify which members attended in-person or remotely.

Identify Yourself: Any board member or member of the public participating in a meeting conducted via electronic equipment “shall make a good faith effort” to state one’s name and title (if applicable) at the outset of each occasion that the person participates orally during an uninterrupted dialogue or series of questions and answers.

Technological Issues:  A board is not required to adjourn or postpone a meeting if a member of the public loses the ability to participate because of issues with the person's connection to the meeting.  If a meeting conducted via electronic equipment is interrupted by disconnection or an unacceptable degradation of the electronic equipment, or if a board member necessary to form a quorum loses the ability to participate because of such issues with the member's connection, the board may (at least 30 minutes -but not more than two hours- after the interruption) resume the meeting 1) in-person, if a quorum is present in-person, or 2) if a quorum is restored via electronic equipment, solely or in part by such equipment.  The board shall (if practicable) post a notification on its website and inform attendees by electronic transmission of the expected time of resumption, or the adjournment or postponement of the meeting, and may announce at the beginning of meetings what preplanned procedures exist in the event of an interruption.

Regional school district public budget hearings:  Eliminating an area of ambiguity, Public Act 22-3 specifically permits a regional school board to conduct remotely (or as a hybrid meeting) the public hearing at which it presents its proposed budget.

Final Thoughts:  The law preserves local discretion on whether to conduct meeting in-person or remotely.   The law does not require a board to provide to the public remote access to its meetings, as a board could choose to conduct traditional/fully in-person meetings.  However, the law provides board members with a right to attend meetings remotely (even for meetings held in-person).  Previously, such participation may have been limited by internal bylaws.  In light of the new law, boards may wish to review and update (and eliminate obsolete language from) bylaws governing meetings.    

Please note: This article previously appeared in the July 2022 issue of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) Journal. Reprinted with permission from CABE. ©2022

Related Practices & Industries

This blog/web site presents general information only. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice, and you should not consider or rely on it as such. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation. This website is not an offer to represent you. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information at this website. Neither our presentation of such information nor your receipt of it creates nor will create an attorney-client relationship with any reader of this blog. Any links from another site to the blog are beyond the control of Pullman & Comley, LLC and do not convey their approval, support or any relationship to any site or organization. Any description of a result obtained for a client in the past is not intended to be, and is not, a guarantee or promise the firm can or will achieve a similar outcome.

Subscribe to Updates

About Our School Law Blog

Alerts, commentary, and insights from the attorneys of Pullman & Comley’s School Law practice on federal and Connecticut law as it pertains to educational institutions, whether those institutions be public school districts, private K-12 schools, or post-secondary colleges and universities.

Other Blogs by Pullman & Comley

Connecticut Health Law Blog

For What It May Be Worth

Working Together

Recent Posts


Jump to Page