A Board of Education’s failure to strictly comply with notice requirements for a school referendum was insufficient to make the referendum results valid. In June 2013, a regional school district had a referendum whether to appropriate approximately $65 million for its high school. A regional newspaper, published an article about the referendum that included the date and time of the vote, along with the referendum question and polling locations, however, the newspaper did not contain that information in the “legal notice” section.
In addition to this newspaper, another regional newspaper also published articles about the referendum. The Board of Education mailed a referendum notice to every citizen and used its automated phone system to contact parents and voters. The referendum was also discussed at town meetings. After the referendum was narrowly passed, 1269 – 1265, the municipalities which comprised the regional school district requested a declaratory ruling on whether the referendum was valid.
Connecticut law requires a warning of a town election in a newspaper of general circulation. In a case of first impression, the Superior Court found that the failure to strictly comply with statutory notice requirements was insufficient to make the referendum invalid, absent evidence of real prejudice. The Court took notice that turnout was greater than a prior referendum that did have proper notice, and issued judgment that the referendum results were valid.