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Is this a conflict of Interest?

8 years 2 months ago #146518 by agapemom

We are starting a PTO from scratch and just held our Executive Board elections last night.

I took a co-President's position. I am also a substitute teacher.

I just heard from a board member that a parent asked if it is not a conflict of interest for me to be on the PTO board.

We will be contacting our School Board to find out if there are any "regulations" that address this situation or prohibit a substitute teacher from holding a co-President's position.

Your input is greatly appreciated. After we get sufficient feedback/response, we will be sending the link to this thread to the parent who had the question.

I've worked hard to get this PTO up and running and it would be sad if I had to leave, but I want the new PTO to be above reproach so I would step down if necessary.

Thanks in advance for your input!
8 years 2 months ago #146525 by JHB
This is a policy decision that is up to your group to decide, although getting input from the school is a good idea.

Some feel that anyone who is employeed by the school or district (even part time) should not be one of the PTO's elected officers. Others feel since it is a PTO - with the "T" meaning teachers, there's no problem with staff taking that role.

The elementary PTO I was affilated with did not allow a staff member to serve as any of the 5 elected positions. (Pres, VP, Sec, Treas, Parl.) Our board was comprised of those plus Principal, Vice Princ, 2 teacher rep, and a host of committee chairs. So staff could be on the Board in other positions, but not those 5.

The principal actually initiated this request when we re-wrote our bylaws. The issues were:
1) A staff member could be put in a difficult position when filling the dual role of employee and PTO leader. PTO leadership needs independence. If the principal is their "boss", that could make for some awkward situations.
2) If there is a problem - or even perception of problem - with PTO funds (i.e., embezzlement, mis-use) or a law is broken (i.e., held bingo without getting a license), they didn't want a district employee involved.

In middle school - where the PTO had only minimal funds and served a far lessor role - we did not have this prohibition and at times staff did serve as president. It worked out fine.

As school districts are getting more and more concerned about potential liability, they may not allow you to serve as President. But they may also have no concern one way or the other.
8 years 2 months ago #146528 by gjcoram
Our elementary school PTO by-laws specify that an officer must be a parent/guardian of a student at the school (they may also be staff). JHB's concerns should be considered.
8 years 2 months ago #146532 by agapemom
Thanks for your input gjcoram and JHB, we are still waiting on our district to answer this question, but I spoke to my Principal this morning and he feels completely comfortable with me as a substitute teacher and filling the role as President.

He also expects that our district will have no "rules or regulations" prohibiting me from filling the role as President.

He believes that because I am a part-time employee it is less of an issue.

I think it will help in dealing with this parent (when we address her concerns) that I don't substitute in our Elementary school. I tend to sub at the Jr. High only.

Thanks again for your input and I'll post back when we hear from our district.
8 years 2 months ago #146540 by JHB
Even for our elementary PTO, your situation wouldn't really have been an issue if you don't ever work at at your own school. Our language was actually that an officer could not be an employee at our school or someone employed in a management position for the district.

Good luck. It's always nice to get any potential hurdles out of the way in advance.
8 years 2 months ago #146547 by CrewChief
My last set of bylaws had this to say about officer eligibility. It's very specific:

Eligible candidates shall be defined as those who have a child/ward attending the District (###) schools.

There has been plenty of advice on these boards in favor of including teacher input when establishing a new PTO, as your school is doing now. I agree with JHB and gjcoram, for the reasons they state, that it isn't a sound practice for the long term. As you draft your bylaws, be very specific about member and officer eligibility.

During this first year, your group is bound to have plenty of issues to work through. If things come up that you or others feel are a conflict of interest for you or cause you to conflict with your boss (the principal), perhaps you can recuse yourself from the discussion and resulting vote.

Remember, overall, that while we should give attention to parents' issues, there will rarely, if ever, be a consesus on your activities. Address the issues as they arise but keep them in perspective. There will almost always be one or two (or 100 or so) nay sayers in the community.

Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same."

"The ultimate aim of karate lies not in victory or defeat but in the true perfection of one's character."
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