April 12, 1999
Ms Patricia Rudolph
3463 First Place
Seaford, NY 11783
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions.
The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the information presented in your
Dear Ms. Rudolph:
I have received your letter of March 22. You wrote that, you attempted without success to attend a meeting of the PTA that was held at a school in Seaford School District.
You have requested an advisory opinion concerning your ability to attend the kind of
meeting that you described. In this regard, I offer the following comments.
First, the Open Meetings Law is applicable to meetings of public bodies, and the phrase "public body" is defined in §102(2) to mean:
"...any entity for which a quorum is required in order to
conduct public business and which consists of two or more
members, performing a governmental function for the state or
for an agency or department thereof, or for a public corporation as defined in section sixty-six of the general construction law, or committee or subcommittee or other similar body of such public body."
Based upon the foregoing, as a general matter, I believe that public bodies are those entities
that perform governmental functions. Although a PTA performs its functions in relation to
government, I do not believe that a PTA would constitute a public body subject to the Open Meetings Law. As such, its meetings in my view fall outside the requirements of the Open Meetings Law.
Second, however, §414(1)(c) of the Education Law states that a board of education
may permit school property to be used for specific purposes, one of which is:
"For holding social, civic and recreational meetings and entertainments, and other uses pertaining to the welfare of the community; but such meetings, entertainment and uses shall be non-exclusive and shall be open to the general public."
In view of the language quoted above, if a meeting is held on school property for a "civic"
purpose or for a purpose pertaining to the welfare of the community, such a gathering "shall
be non-exclusive and shall be open to the general public." As such, it appears that a meeting
of the PTA held on school property would fall within the scope of §414 of the Education
Law, and that any such meeting must be open to the public.
In an effort to enhance compliance with and understanding of applicable law, a copy
of this letter will be forwarded to the Board of Education.
I hope that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Board of Education