October 4, 1999
Ms. Anna M. Scricca
Ingerman Smith, L.L.P.
167 Main Street
Northport, NY 11768
Dear Ms. Scricca:
I have received your letter of September 10 in which you asked that I confirm our
conversation of September 10 concerning an advisory opinion addressed to Ms. Patricia
Rudolph on April 12. That opinion involved Ms. Rudolph's ability to attend what she described as a PTA meeting held at a school in the Seaford School District. In brief, it was
advised that a PTA is not a "public body" and, therefore, is not subject to the Open Meetings Law. However, it was also advised that "if a meeting is held on school property for a ‘civic' purpose", such as a meeting of a PTA, such a meeting should be held open to the public pursuant to paragraph (c) of §414(1) of the Education Law.
You wrote that the event in question was not a PTA meeting, but rather "an instructional program on hygiene sponsored by the P.T.A. for fourth grade mothers and their daughters." That kind of event would appear to have been authorized by paragraph (a) of §414(1) of the Education Law, which pertains to the use of school property "For the purpose of instruction in any branch of education, learning or the arts."
While paragraph (c) of §414(1) states that the events described in that provision "shall
be open to the general public', there is no similar right of public access to the events described in paragraph (a). Because the event in question involved instruction and education, it appears that Ms. Rudolph could properly have been denied access.
I hope that the foregoing serves to confirm our conversation and that I have been of assistance.
Robert J. Freeman
cc: Board of Education