senate Bill S5823

2011-2012 Legislative Session

Clarifies the scope of the term "educational institution"

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


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

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Actions

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
Jan 04, 2012 referred to investigations and government operations
Jun 17, 2011 referred to rules

S5823 - Bill Details

See Assembly Version of this Bill:
A8094
Current Committee:
Law Section:
Executive Law
Laws Affected:
Amd §§292 & 296, Exec L

S5823 - Bill Texts

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Clarifies the scope of the term "educational institution".

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BILL NUMBER:S5823

TITLE OF BILL:

An act
to amend the executive law, in
relation to clarifying the scope of the
application of subdivision 4 of section 296
to educational institutions

PURPOSE OF BILL:

The purpose of the bill is to clarify that the anti-discrimination
protections of Article 15 of the Executive Law (Human Rights Law),
Section 296.4, cover public as well as private schools.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 of the bill would amend Section 292.35 of the Human Rights
Law to add a new subdivision 35 to provide a definition of
"educational institution." In subsection (a), the definition
incorporates language currently in the Law, which states that the
paragraph applies to an "education corporation or association which
holds itself out to the public to be non-sectarian and exempt from
taxation pursuant to the provisions of article four of the real
property tax law." In subsection (b), the terms "any public school,
including any school district, board of cooperative educational
services, public college, or public university" are added to the
definition.

Section 2 of the bill would amend Section 296.4 of the Human Rights
Law to remove a reference to an "education corporation or association
which holds itself out to the public to be non-sectarian and exempt
from taxation pursuant to the provisions of article four of the real
property tax law", as this reference will now be found in the
definition section of the Law. Section 296.4 is amended to refer to
"educational institutions," as defined in Section 292.35.

Section 3 of the bill would provide for an immediate effective date.

EXISTING LAW:

Section 296.4 of the Human Rights Law currently states that it applies
to an "education corporation or association which holds itself out to
the public to be nonsectarian and exempt from taxation pursuant to
the provisions of article four of the real property tax law". This
section functions without reference to any definition in the
definition section of the Law, which is Section 292.

Under the current statutory language, the Division of Human Rights has
asserted
jurisdiction over public school districts for over twenty years, but
the Appellate Division, Second Department recently held that Section
296.4 did not provide jurisdiction over public school districts. See
East Meadow Union Free School District v. N.Y.S. Division of Human


Rights, 65 A.D.3d 1342, 886 N.Y.S.2d 211 (2d Dept. 2009), Iv. denied
14 N.Y.3d 710 (2010).

PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

A bill containing these provisions (A. 11563/ S.8436) was introduced
in 2010 as a Governor's Program Bill, but did not come to a vote in
either house.

STATEMENT IN SUPPORT

The right to be free from discrimination by educational institutions
is set out as one of the purposes of the New York State Human Rights
Law, the oldest anti-discrimination law in the country. Thus at the
outset the Human Rights Law states, at Section 290.3:

The legislature hereby finds and declares that the state has the
responsibility to act to assure that every individual within this
state is afforded an equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive
life and that the failure to provide such equal opportunity, whether
because of discrimination, prejudice, intolerance or inadequate
education, training, housing or health care not only threatens the
rights and proper privileges of its inhabitants but menaces the
institutions and foundation of a free democratic state and threatens
the peace, order, health, safety and general welfare of the state and
its inhabitants. A division in the executive department is hereby
created to encourage programs designed to insure that every
individual shall have an equal opportunity to participate fully in
the economic, cultural and intellectual life of the state; to
encourage and promote the development and execution by all persons
within the state of such state programs;
to eliminate and prevent discrimination in employment, in places of
public accommodation, resort or amusement, in educational
institutions, in public services, in housing accommodations, in
commercial space and in credit transactions and to take other actions
against discrimination as herein provided;
and the division established hereunder is hereby given general
jurisdiction and power for such purposes.

Moreover, Human Rights Law § 291 entitled Equality of Opportunity a
Civil Right, the "opportunity to obtain education" without
discrimination on all the bases covered by the Law is "recognized and
declared to be a civil right." Executive Law Section 291.2.

There is no suggestion in this broad language relative to equality of
educational opportunity that the Legislature intended to limit its
application to private schools.
Indeed, addressing the inadequacy of education referred to as one of
the Law's purposes cannot be achieved without holding public
institutions accountable for discrimination.

Thus Section 296.4 of the Human Rights Law has been interpreted by the
Division of Human Rights for over twenty years as encompassing access
to public educational institutions without unlawful discrimination.

This bill will clarify that access to public schools without unlawful
discrimination is protected under the education provisions of the


Human Rights Law. The clarification of the definition of covered
entities under Section 296.4 will ensure that the education
provisions of the Human Rights Law fulfill the intended purpose of
the law, and will avoid further litigation of the unclear scope of
the provision.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS:

The amendment will not increase Division case filings, as the Division
has, for over twenty years, accepted and investigated complaints
against public educational institutions alleging discrimination in
education. Moreover, clarification of the definition of covered
entities will avoid further costly litigation of the unclear scope of
the provision.

EFFECTIVE DATE

This act shall take effect immediately.

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

                                  5823

                       2011-2012 Regular Sessions

                            I N  S E N A T E

                              June 17, 2011
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen.  SALAND  --  (at  request  of the Division of Human
  Rights) -- read twice and ordered printed,  and  when  printed  to  be
  committed to the Committee on Rules

AN  ACT  to amend the executive law, in relation to clarifying the scope
  of the application of subdivision 4  of  section  296  to  educational
  institutions

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

  Section 1. Section 292 of the executive law is amended by adding a new
subdivision 35 to read as follows:
  35. THE TERM "EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION", WHEN  USED  IN  THIS  ARTICLE,
SHALL MEAN:
  (A) ANY EDUCATION CORPORATION OR ASSOCIATION WHICH HOLDS ITSELF OUT TO
THE  PUBLIC TO BE NON-SECTARIAN AND EXEMPT FROM TAXATION PURSUANT TO THE
PROVISIONS OF ARTICLE FOUR OF THE REAL PROPERTY TAX LAW; OR
  (B) ANY PUBLIC SCHOOL, INCLUDING ANY SCHOOL DISTRICT, BOARD OF COOPER-
ATIVE EDUCATION SERVICES, PUBLIC COLLEGE, OR PUBLIC UNIVERSITY.
  S 2. Subdivision 4 of section 296 of the executive law, as amended  by
chapter 106 of the laws of 2003, is amended to read as follows:
  4.  It  shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for an [education
corporation or association which holds itself out to the  public  to  be
non-sectarian  and  exempt  from  taxation pursuant to the provisions of
article four of the real property tax law]  EDUCATIONAL  INSTITUTION  to
deny  the use of its facilities to any person otherwise qualified, or to
permit the harassment of any student or  applicant,  by  reason  of  his
race,  color, religion, disability, national origin, sexual orientation,
military status, sex, age or marital status, except that any such insti-
tution which establishes or maintains a policy of educating  persons  of
one sex exclusively may admit students of only one sex.
  S 3. This act shall take effect immediately.

 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD09756-01-1

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