Question: School levy: Can we take sides?

Our school district is going to put a levy on the May ballot. Our PTO president is telling certain board members that if we become involved in any way, even if it’s by attending informational meetings, she can ask for our resignation. Can she do this?

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Advice from PTO Today

Elly writes:

Your president is out of line to think she can ask for your resignation simply because you want to be educated about a voting matter in your town. The IRS does prohibit tax-exempt organizations from participating in certain political activities and sets limits on the collective resources (members’ time and money) groups can spend to influence legislation (lobbying). But the IRS says that these limits are not intended to restrict the free expression of leaders speaking for themselves, as individuals, on political matters. The bottom line is, you are a citizen and a parent leader; if being both at the same time does not jeopardize the group you represent, then you should not be forced to relinquish any of your constitutional rights.

On the other hand, as an officer you have an obligation to your group. If you’re going to take a stand that is likely to split your group or harm it in some way, you probably should consider resigning.

And while your president can’t force you to resign, she may be able to have you removed from office some other way. That depends on your group’s bylaws. Check them to see whether they contain a provision for removing an officer. If they don’t, then you can’t be removed from office.

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