August 23, 2005
FROM: Robert J. Freeman, Executive Director
The staff of the Committee on Open Government is authorized to issue advisory opinions. The ensuing staff advisory opinion is based solely upon the facts presented in your correspondence.
I have received your inquiry in which you asked whether a soccer association meeting in a high school auditorium must be held open to the public.
In this regard, the Open Meetings Law applies to meetings of public bodies, and §102(2) of that statute defines the phrase "public body" 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."
From my perspective, the association to which you referred clearly falls beyond the coverage of the Open Meetings Law.
However, depending upon its purpose, an event held on school property might be required to be conducted in public, even though the event does not involve a public body or the Open Meetings Law. The Education Law enables a board of education to authorize that school property be used for various purposes, including:
"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" [§414(1)(c)].
Therefore, if an entity meets on school property for a social or civic purpose, or for a purpose pertaining to the welfare of the community, its meetings would appear to be open to the public, even if the Open Meetings Law does not apply.
Based on the facts that you provided, it appears that the meeting that you described would be held for a social or civic purpose. If that is so, it appears that §414 of the Education Law would require that the meeting be open to the public.
I hope that I have been of assistance.