senate Bill S6087A

Authorizes the use of school buildings and school sites for religious meetings and worship when not in use for school purposes

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Bill Status


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor
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actions

  • 04 / Jan / 2012
    • REFERRED TO EDUCATION
  • 13 / Jan / 2012
    • AMEND AND RECOMMIT TO EDUCATION
  • 13 / Jan / 2012
    • PRINT NUMBER 6087A
  • 24 / Jan / 2012
    • 1ST REPORT CAL.126
  • 30 / Jan / 2012
    • 2ND REPORT CAL.
  • 31 / Jan / 2012
    • ADVANCED TO THIRD READING
  • 06 / Feb / 2012
    • PASSED SENATE
  • 06 / Feb / 2012
    • DELIVERED TO ASSEMBLY
  • 06 / Feb / 2012
    • REFERRED TO EDUCATION

Summary

Authorizes the use of school buildings and school sites for religious meetings and worship when not in use for school purposes or when such service or worship is deemed not disruptive of normal school operations.

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Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A8800A
Versions:
S6087
S6087A
Legislative Cycle:
2011-2012
Current Committee:
Assembly Education
Law Section:
Education Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §414, Ed L

Sponsor Memo

BILL NUMBER:S6087A REVISED 01/27/12

TITLE OF BILL:
An act
to amend the education law, in relation to authorizing religious
meetings and worship in school buildings and school sites

PURPOSE:
The purpose of the bill is to authorize the use of school buildings
and school sites for religious meetings and worship when not in use
for school purposes.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 amends the opening paragraph and paragraph (c) of
subdivision 1 of section 414 of the education law, the opening
paragraph as amended by chapter 369 of the laws of 1977 and paragraph
(c) as amended by chapter 345 of the laws of 2009, are amended to
include:

The City of New York and community school boards and;

A provision that prohibits the adoption of restrictions to exclude or
limit speech, during non-school hours, including speech that
expresses religious conduct or viewpoints.

JUSTIFICATION:
This bill would prevent school districts from excluding groups from
meeting on school property because of the religious content or
viewpoint of their speech, including allowing religious worship
services.

Currently, State Education Law allows for social, civic and
recreational meetings and entertainment on school property, as well
as other uses pertaining to the welfare of the community. State law
further holds that such meetings, entertainment and uses shall be
nonexclusive and shall be open to the general public. However,
certain groups or organizations are not always allowed to hold the
types of meetings seemingly envisioned herein, including those with
religious content or viewpoints.

For example, several years ago, a U.S. Appeals Court ruled that the
Bronx Household of Faith church ("Bronx Household") ( based in New
York city, was not permitted to use space in a Bronx public middle
school for its Sunday morning worship service. Since then, however,
the United
States Supreme Court ruled in Good News Club vs. Milford central
School that it was unconstitutional for a public school district in
upstate New York to exclude from its facilities "a private Christian
organization for children, and the Supreme Court further held in the
Good News Club case that "by denying the club access to the school's
limited public forum on the ground that the club was religious in
nature, Milford discriminated against the club because of its
religious viewpoint in violation of the free speech clause.

In light of Milford, Bronx Household re-petitioned the U.S. appeals
court, which again upheld the school's policy banning the use of its


space for religious worship services, reasoning that "While the
conduct of religious services undoubtedly includes expressions of a
religious point of view, it is not the expression of that point of
view that is prohibited by the rule.
Prayer, religious expression of devotion to God, and the singing of
hymns, whether done by a person or group, do not constitute the
conduct of worship services. These activities are not excluded".
Groups like Bronx Household should be allowed to hold and conduct
such meetings, even in the event that such meetings include religious
content or views in their speech, so long as these meetings are open
to the general public. Some school districts have excluded groups and
have thereby acted to regulate free speech and the conduct of such
members of the public, potentially in violation of the First
Amendment to the Constitution of the united States. This bill seeks
to protect such organizations from these actions.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
New.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS:
None to the state.

EFFECTIVE DATE:
This act shall take effect immediately.

view bill text
                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                 6087--A

                            I N  S E N A T E

                               (PREFILED)

                             January 4, 2012
                               ___________

Introduced by Sens. GOLDEN, DeFRANCISCO, DIAZ, GALLIVAN, GRIFFO, GRISAN-
  TI,  KENNEDY,  LANZA, LIBOUS, MAZIARZ, O'MARA, RIVERA, SAMPSON, SMITH,
  ZELDIN -- read twice and ordered  printed,  and  when  printed  to  be
  committed  to the Committee on Education -- committee discharged, bill
  amended, ordered reprinted as amended and recommitted to said  commit-
  tee

AN  ACT to amend the education law, in relation to authorizing religious
  meetings and worship in school buildings and school sites

  THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND  ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section 1. The opening paragraph and paragraph (c) of subdivision 1 of
section  414  of  the education law, the opening paragraph as amended by
chapter 369 of the laws of 1977 and paragraph (c) as amended by  chapter
345 of the laws of 2009, are amended and a new subdivision 3 is added to
read as follows:
  Schoolhouses  and  the  grounds  connected  therewith and all property
belonging to the district shall be in the custody and under the  control
and  supervision  of the trustees or board of education of the district.
The trustees or board of education, OR IN  THE  CITY  OF  NEW  YORK  THE
COMMUNITY  SCHOOL BOARD, may adopt reasonable regulations for the use of
such schoolhouses, grounds or other property, all portions thereof, when
not in use for school purposes or when the school is in use  for  school
purposes  if  in  the  opinion of the trustees or board of education use
will not be disruptive of  normal  school  operations,  for  such  other
public purposes as are herein provided[; except, however, in the city of
New York each community school board shall be authorized to prohibit any
use  of  schoolhouses and school grounds within its district which would
otherwise be permitted under the provisions of this section]. Such regu-
lations shall provide for the safety and  security  of  the  pupils  and
shall not conflict with the provisions of this chapter and shall conform
to  the  purposes  and  intent  of  this section and shall be subject to
review on appeal to the commissioner of education as  provided  by  law.
The  trustees  or  board  of  education of each district may, subject to

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD13680-02-2

S. 6087--A                          2

regulations adopted as above provided, permit the use of the schoolhouse
and rooms therein, and the grounds and other property of  the  district,
when  not  in  use  for school purposes or when the school is in use for
school  purposes if in the opinion of the trustees or board of education
use will not be disruptive of normal school operations, for any  of  the
following purposes:
  (c) For holding social, civic, RELIGIOUS and recreational meetings and
entertainments, and other uses pertaining to the welfare of the communi-
ty; but such meetings, entertainment and uses shall be non-exclusive and
shall  be  open to the general public. Civic meetings shall include, but
not be limited to, meetings of parent  associations  and  parent-teacher
associations.
  3.  NOTHING  IN  THIS SECTION SHALL AUTHORIZE THE TRUSTEES OR BOARD OF
EDUCATION OF THE DISTRICT TO ADOPT OR INTERPRET REGULATIONS FOR THE  USE
OF  SCHOOLHOUSES, GROUNDS OR OTHER PROPERTY, PURSUANT TO SUBDIVISION ONE
OF THIS SECTION, THAT WOULD RESULT IN THE  EXCLUSION  OR  LIMITATION  OF
SPEECH,  DURING  NON  SCHOOL  HOURS, EVEN WHERE STUDENTS MAY BE PRESENT,
INCLUDING SPEECH THAT EXPRESSES RELIGIOUS CONDUCT OR DISCUSSES  SUBJECTS
FROM A RELIGIOUS VIEWPOINT.
  S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.

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