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I. Relationships of Board of Regents and State Education Department to Private Educational Institutions

The University of the State of New York, created by the Legislature in 1784, includes all elementary, secondary and postsecondary educational institutions, both public and private, and all libraries, museums, historical societies and other educational institutions in the State which have been incorporated by the Regents or the Legislature or have been admitted to membership by the Regents.

The Board of Regents, both by constitutional provision and by statute, is the governing body of The University of the State of New York, and the Commissioner of Education is President of the University and chief executive officer of the Board.

In these respective capacities, the Regents and the Commissioner exercise a number of related but separate functions with respect to the educational institutions of the State. Those functions which are within the purview of this pamphlet are as follows:

A. Creation of education corporations.

Education Law §216 provides in part that:

“Charters. Under such name, with such number of trustees or other managers, and with such powers, privileges and duties, and subject to such limitations and restrictions in all respects as the regents may prescribe in conformity to law, they may, by an instrument under their seal and recorded in their office, incorporate any university, college, academy, library, museum, or other institution or association for the promotion of science, literature, art, history or other department of knowledge, or of education in any way, associations of teachers, students, graduates of educational institutions, and other associations whose approved purposes are, in whole or in part, of educational or cultural value deemed worthy of recognition and encouragement by the university.”

The document which reflects the corporate status of a college, university, professional training institution, school, library, museum, historical society or public television and/or radio corporation is referred to as a “charter,” while the document which evidences the corporate status of all other education corporations created by the Regents is called a “certificate of incorporation” (§3.20 of the Rules of the Regents; see Appendix B).

The two types of document have precisely the same legal effect insofar as corporate existence and statutory corporate powers are concerned. The distinction between them is that charters are issued only where the nature of the corporate purposes is such that adherence to specified standards is required, while certificates of incorporation are issued where no specified standards apply, but where the corporate purposes are “of educational or cultural value deemed worthy of recognition and encouragement by the university” (Education Law §216; see Appendix A).

This basis for the distinction between the two types of document is reflected in the nature of the representations as to corporate status which the corporation may make. A corporation which possesses an absolute charter may make the statement “Chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York.” A corporation with a provisional charter may indicate that it is “Provisionally chartered by the Regents of the University of the State of New York.” A corporation to which a certificate of incorporation has been issued may make the statement “Incorporated under the New York State Education Law” (§3.25 of the Rules of the Regents; see Appendix B). These restrictions on representations as to corporate status are intended to enable the public to distinguish between education corporations which must adhere to specific standards and those which are not required to do so.

In this connection, it should be noted that Education Law §214 provides that:

“Institutions in the university. The institutions of the university shall include all secondary and higher educational institutions which are now or may hereafter be incorporated in this state, and such other libraries, museums, institutions, schools, organizations and agencies for education as may be admitted to or incorporated by the university. The regents may exclude from such membership any institution failing to comply with law or with any rule of the university.”

Incorporation by the Regents or incorporation as a secondary or higher educational institution by special act of the Legislature, or registration of a high school, automatically admit the institution to membership in The University of the State of New York.

Institutions not incorporated by the Regents or by special act which desire admission to the University may apply for admission by petition addressed to The State Education Department, Office of Counsel, Room 148, E.B., Albany, New York 12234.

As noted above, the Regents’ statutory authority for the creation of education corporations generally is found in Education Law §216. The authority to create corporations for the purpose of constructing, owning, operating or maintaining a nonprofit and noncommercial television and/or radio station is found in Education Law §236 (see Appendix A).

B. Consent to incorporation under other statutes.

Education Law §216 provides in part that:

“No institution or association which might be incorporated by the regents under [the Education Law] shall, without their consent, be incorporated under any other general law.” (See Appendix A.)

Similar provisions are contained in the Business Corporation Law and the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law. The circumstances under which the consent of the Regents will be given, and the procedure for making application for such consent, are set forth in Part III of this pamphlet. (Frequently asked questions)

C. Granting of power to confer degrees.

Education Law §224, subdivision 1, provides that no individual, association, partnership or corporation which does not hold degree-conferring powers granted by the Regents or the Legislature shall confer any degree, or shall use, advertise or transact business under the name “university” or “college,” unless the right to do so shall have been granted by the Regents. A violation is a misdemeanor (see Appendix A for full text).

Colleges, universities and other postsecondary institutions which offer degree programs receive specific authority in their charters to confer the appropriate degrees. Occasionally, however, an institution which does not possess a charter from the Regents or the Legislature may wish to secure power to confer degrees. In any such case, the institution in question should write The State Education Department, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education, Room 979, E.B.A., Albany, New York 12234.

D. Registration of curricula.

It is important to note the distinction between the corporate power of an educational institution to confer degrees and the registration by the State Education Department of a specific degree at the institution.

Education Law §210 provides that “The Regents may register domestic and foreign institutions in terms of New York standards. . .” (see Appendix A).

The Regents, by §13.1 of their Rules, have delegated the registration function to the Commissioner (see Appendix B). No degree program may be offered unless and until it is registered. The standards for the registration of curricula established by the Commissioner are found in Part 52 of the Regulations. Parts 50, 53 and 54 contain related provisions and requirements.

It is also important to note that in addition to the power of the Regents to create education corporations and to authorize them to confer degrees, where appropriate, and the authority of the Department to register programs leading to degrees, the Regents also have statutory responsibility for master planning in higher education (Education Law §237; see Appendix A). An institution seeking registration of a new program may also need to seek amendment of its institutional master plan by the Regents.

The representations which an institution may make to prospective students and the public concerning registration of these programs are set forth in §13.11 of the Rules of the Regents (see Appendix B).

Inquiries concerning the requirements and procedure for registration of programs and master plan amendments should be directed to The State Education Department, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Higher Education, Room 979, E.B.A., Albany, New York 12234.

E. Registration of libraries.

Education Law §254 authorizes the Board of Regents to fix standards of library service for public libraries and free association libraries which receive public funds (see Appendix A). The Regents, by §11.1 of their rules, have authorized the Commissioner to establish regulations for the registration of libraries (see Appendix B). Part 90 of the Regulations of the Commissioner deals with registration, standards and related matters.

The representations which a library may make to the public concerning its registration are set forth in §13.11 of the Rules of the Regents (see Appendix B).

Inquiries concerning the registration of libraries should be addressed to The State Education Department, Division of Library Development, Room 10B41, C.E.C., Albany, New York 12230.

F. Registration of museums.

Section 3.27 of the Rules of the Regents provides for the chartering and registration of museums. The section requires that to be eligible for a provisional charter, a museum must submit evidence which makes it appear likely that the museum will achieve registration by the Regents; and that to be eligible for an absolute charter, the museum shall possess registration by the Regents (see Appendix B).

The representations which a museum may make to the public concerning its registration are set forth in §13.11 of the Rules of the Regents (see Appendix B).

Inquiries concerning the registration of museums should be addressed to The State Education Department, The State Museum, Chartering Program, Room 3090, C.E.C., Albany, New York 12230.

G. Registration of secondary schools.

The powers conferred upon the Commissioner of Education pursuant to Article 5 of the Education Law include the authority to register secondary schools (i.e., schools offering instruction in some or all of the grades seven through twelve).

Section 3.32 of the Rules of the Regents provides that secondary schools may be admitted to The University of the State of New York by vote of the Regents (see Appendix B). Part 100 of the Regulations of the Commissioner sets forth the standards for the registration of secondary schools.

The representations which a secondary school may make to prospective students and the public concerning its registration are set forth in §13.11 of the Rules of the Regents (see Appendix B).

Inquiries concerning the requirements and procedures for the registration of secondary schools should be addressed to The State Education Department, Office of the Deputy Commissioner for Elementary, Middle, Secondary and Continuing Education, Room 875, E.B.A., Albany, New York 12234.

H. Registration of nursery schools and kindergartens.

Part 125 of the Regulations of the Commissioner provides for the voluntary registration of nonpublic nursery schools and kindergartens and sets forth the standards for such registration.

The representations which a nursery school or kindergarten may make to the public concerning its registration are set forth in §13.11 of the Rules of the Regents (see Appendix B).

Inquiries concerning the requirements and procedures for the registration of a nursery school or kindergarten should be addressed to The State Education Department, Office of Nonpublic School Services, Room 480, E.B.A., Albany, New York 12234.

I. Licensing of private schools and registration of private business schools.

Education Law Article 101, consisting of §§5001 through 5010, provides that certain private schools, including correspondence schools, must be licensed and that certain private business schools must be registered by the State Education Department (see Appendix A).

Part 126 of the Regulations of the Commissioner specifies the standards which must be met by an institution seeking licensure.

The representations which a licensed private school or registered private business school may make to prospective students and the public concerning the license or registration of the school are set forth in §13.11 of the Rules of the Regents (see Appendix B).

Inquiries concerning the requirements and procedures for licensure of private schools and registration of private business schools should be addressed to The State Education Department, Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision, Room 974, E.B.A., Albany, New York 12234.

J. Approval of private schools for education of the disabled.

Education Law §4404 provides for the approval of private schools for the education of the disabled prior to the admission of any child to such a school under contract with a school district. Section 200.9 of the Regulations of the Commissioner sets forth the standards for such approval.

Education Law §4407 authorizes The State Education Department to contract directly with a private school located outside the State for the education of the disabled if it is determined that such school can meet the needs of a particular disabled youngster. Section 200.8 of the Regulations of the Commissioner sets forth the standards which such schools must meet.

The representations which a private school approved for education of the disabled may make to the public concerning such approval are set forth in §13.11 of the Rules of the Regents (see Appendix B).

Inquiries concerning approval of private schools for the education of the disabled should be addressed to The State Education Department, Office for Special Education Services, Room 1610, O.C.P., Albany, New York 12234.

K. Approval of courses of education for training of veterans and eligible persons.

The State Education Department is authorized by the provisions of Chapter 36, Title 38 of the United States Code to approve courses of education offered by educational institutions within the State for the training of veterans and eligible persons. Such approval is an essential prerequisite to the payment of federal education benefits to the veteran or eligible person.

The representations which an educational institution offering courses of education approved for the training of veterans may make to prospective students and the public concerning such approval are set forth in §13.11 of the Rules of the Regents (see Appendix B).

Inquiries concerning courses of education for the training of veterans should be addressed to the New York State Division of Veterans Affairs, Bureau of Veterans Education, Five Empire State Plaza, Suite 2836, Albany, New York 12223.