By DAVE ALTIMARI and JON LENDER, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Hartford Courant
7:08 PM EDT, May 6, 2013
Hearings on how to divide $7.7 million among 40 families affected by the killings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown have been postponed after questions were raised about whether more money should go those families.
The hearings were scheduled for this week. A three-person committee headed by former federal judge Alan Nevas was formed to distribute the money, which comes from an approximately $11.3 million fund under the control of the Sandy Hook-Newtown Community Foundation Inc.
The group had determined that the money would be distributed among the families of the 20 first-graders and six women killed in the Dec. 14 shooting, the 12 first-graders who survived the shooting, and two teachers who were wounded.
The hearings were postponed after representatives of state Attorney General George Jepsen's office met with some of the families late last week and the decision was made to convene a meeting between the attorney general's office and the foundation.
Foundation spokesman Patrick Kinney said that meeting could take place as early as Wednesday. Kinney said Jepsen's office wants to review the process that was used to determine the amount of money to be distributed to the families.
A source familiar with what transpired during the meeting between Jepsen's representatives and some of the families said some family members questioned why more money was not being given to the families.
Questions about the "transparency" of the foundation's decision-making were raised at Friday's meeting by family members and representatives of the 40 families, a source familiar with the situation said Monday.
Among questions to be resolved are how the foundation decided on the 70-30 split of the $11.3 million between the families and the community, the source said. Family members have said the foundation has failed to provide clear answers on that, the source said.
Other issues to be resolved, according to the source, are: whether there could be an increase in the percentage for the families; whether more would go to families whose loved ones were killed; and whether victims' families might be eligible for services made available to the overall community, the source said.
Foundation members have indicated that they did not believe all of the money raised should be distributed to the victims' families because the community would have long-term needs after the shooting.
It is unclear how many families attended the meeting with the attorney general's representatives.
A spokeswoman for Jepsen said he was "not available to discuss this matter."
She released a statement from his office that said:
"The Attorney General met with various families who lost precious loved ones on December 14 and their representatives on Friday. As a result of the meeting, and consistent with his responsibilities to oversee charitable activities and fundraising in Connecticut, the Attorney General has scheduled a meeting with representatives from the Sandy Hook Community Foundation to discuss issues surrounding the decision to disburse $7.7 million to the families most affected by the tragedy."
The foundation created the three-member distribution committee to be headed by Nevas with assistance from arbitrator Kenneth Feinberg. Some families and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy have previously indicated that they wanted Feinberg brought in as an independent authority to oversee the distribution of funds.
Feinberg helped distribute funds following mass shootings at Virginia Tech and in Aurora, Colo. He also was recently tasked with distributing funds raised for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.
The board had said it hoped to distribute the $7.7 million by the end of this month. The next step would be to hold public hearings on what to do with the remaining $3.5 million.
The United Way initially oversaw donations to the fund before handing over administration to the local group. Kim Morgan, executive director of the United Way of Western Connecticut, remains involved with the fund.
More than 40 charitable groups, many formed after the shootings, have collected more than $20 million, with about 15 percent of the money distributed.
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