- In November 2020, a Bucks County resident asked for money and authorized information from the PIAA beneath the Pennsylvania Proper-to-Know Law
- PIAA responded that the legislation did not use to it
- Point out Commonwealth Courtroom ruled towards PIAA state Supreme Court docket has agreed to hear the scenario
The state’s highest courtroom will determine whether the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, the governing physique for superior college sporting activities statewide, is issue to the state’s Suitable-to-Know Law.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Courtroom has agreed to hear an attraction of a unanimous point out Commonwealth Court docket conclusion that observed the PIAA have to abide by the Appropriate-to-Know Legislation, passed in 2008.
The open up-records law exclusively names the PIAA as a single of several “point out-affiliated” entities that slide beneath the statute and must disclose economic data and other info.
The PIAA’s “classification as a ‘state-affiliated entity’ for reasons of the RTKL is fair,” in accordance to the Commonwealth Courtroom ruling, issued in November. The ruling affirmed a point out Business of Open up information conclusion from January 2021.
The PIAA in December questioned the state Supreme Courtroom to hear an attractiveness, and the substantial courtroom granted the charm request on Wednesday. The future action is for the court to timetable a hearing.
The condition Supreme Courtroom is not demanded to listen to an enchantment in each and every circumstance in which an charm is sought. It commonly hears appeals in scenarios of statewide great importance or cases in which the decreased courts issued conflicting decisions.
In granting what is recognized as a petition for allowance of appeal, the seven-member point out Supreme Courtroom narrowed the matters that it will think about in the PIAA scenario.
Struggle goes on:Is PIAA subject matter to Right-to-Know Regulation? Point out, appeals court say certainly, but PIAA continue to battling
The state Supreme Court’s buy said it will evaluate the PIAA’s rivalry that the Commonwealth Court docket erred by discovering that the distinct inclusion of the PIAA in the Correct-to-Know Regulation “did not constitute special legislation and a violation of PIAA’s equivalent security rights.” The condition Supreme Court will also critique irrespective of whether the Commonwealth Courtroom erred — as the PIAA statements it did — by acquiring that the Proper-to-Know Law supersedes the state’s nonprofit company regulation of 1988 concerning disclosure of documents.
The PIAA, according to the buy, is arguing that it is not subject matter to the Right-to-Know Law, regardless of its distinct inclusion in the legislation, simply because of the nonprofit company regulation and due to the fact the PIAA “is a personal non-earnings company that receives no Commonwealth funding of any sort, has not been granted and does not physical exercise any legislatively-granted powers, is not managed by Commonwealth personnel and was not designed by an act of the Basic Assembly.”
The condition Supreme Court’s ruling will settle no matter whether the Suitable-to-Know Regulation has jurisdiction in excess of the PIAA. A decision in favor of the PIAA would all but shut off public access to the PIAA’s information, even nevertheless the firm had been abiding by the Proper-to-Know Law and filling documents requests due to the fact the law was passed — albeit less than protest.
In its 7- selection that went versus the PIAA, the Commonwealth Courtroom determined in favor of a Bucks County resident, Simon Campbell, who asked for PIAA information in November 2020. The PIAA in that case claimed it does not drop under the Proper-to-Know Regulation.
The attorney for Campbell, Craig Staudenmaier, of Harrisburg, declined to comment on the condition Supreme Court’s decision to hear an enchantment, declaring that he had to go over the situation with Campbell. The govt director of the PIAA, Robert Lombardi, declined to remark, indicating the PIAA does not comment on active litigation.
In December 2020, as the litigation in excess of Campbell’s ask for was commencing to unfold, Lombardi claimed the PIAA was involved about ‘frivolous requests” less than the Right-to-Know Law.
“This is just not about not granting access to details, but extra about requests that are pushing the envelope,” Lombardi said at the time.
Staudenmaier, Campbell’s law firm, turned down that argument in an job interview in January, after the PIAA submitted its appeal ask for with the point out Supreme Court docket.
“Just for the reason that a ask for is burdensome mainly because it could require a big number of records isn’t going to mean you really don’t have an obligation to deliver them in a timely method,” Staudenmaier reported.
Route of the appeal
In the PIAA case, the Commonwealth Court’s 28-web site conclusion versus theorganization was published as precedent on Nov. 30. It upheld a ruling that the condition Office environment of Open up Information issued on Jan. 13, 2021.
The OOR experienced declared the PIAA subject to the Correct-to-Know Law in response to the PIAA’s attraction of a request for documents by Campbell. He questioned the PIAA, which contains 12 regional districts, to disclose thousands of documents, including financial statements and authorized communications from 2012 right up until about the conclude of 2020.
OOR determination:PA Business office of Open up Data rules from PIAA, affirms agency falls beneath Proper-to-Know Regulation
The PIAA responded that some of the information did not exist, and that it is not issue to the Correct-to-Know Regulation in any scenario. Campbell won his attractiveness to the OOR, and thePIAA then appealed that decision to Commonwealth Courtroom, created up of 9 elected judges. The panel of seven of the judges rejected the PIAA’s arguments that it is not subject to the Right-to-Know Legislation, in spite of its inclusion in the legislation.
Counter-objection:PIAA files accommodate in Commonwealth Courtroom, saying Pa. Proper-to-Know Regulation should really not utilize to it
The Commonwealth Court’s feeling noted that the “PIAA is the de facto statewide regulator of high college sporting activities across the Commonwealth.” The ruling reiterated a state Supreme Courtroom getting in an additional scenario that the PIAA gets its funding from member charges from school districts and from gate receipts from athletic gatherings that include public large universities.
“As PIAA undertakes state action and is funded mostly by public college districts” according to the Commonwealth Court docket impression, “the Typical Assembly’s classification of PIAA as a ‘state-affiliated entity’ for the objective of qualifying as an agency under the RTKL has a rational basis and furthers a respectable state fascination of transparency in PIAA’s use of general public funds in a method that drastically impacts students’ life.”
The state Supreme Court docket will identify no matter whether the Commonwealth Court’s reasoning was right.
Make contact with Ed Palattella at [email protected]. Abide by him on Twitter @ETNpalattella.