Question: PTO has gone rogue

Can a PTO divorce itself from the school and call itself a "foundation"? Can they take all donated items and leave the school? Can they decide to donate monies raised to the general school district and "worthy" recipients?

Asked by jcarmody



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Let's see... Can a PTO call itself a foundation? Yes, the IRS defines 501c3 PTOs as private foundations. Can it take back donated items? No, once the items are donated, they belong to the school. Can they change their mission to support the entire school district rather than a single school? Probably, although it would likely require filing some paperwork with the IRS (and perhaps state if they're incorporated) regarding the change in mission. Also, changing your mission statement, which is part of a group's bylaws, typically requires a two-thirds vote -- it's not something officers can just decide on. And it does seem questionable to take money raised for a particular school and not use it for that specific purpose. I'd be interested to know more about why they are doing this, if you'd be willing to post it here.

Community Advice

jcarmody writes:
Several parents, and their adult family, decided that the PTO should be "more like a business" and organized well to bring voters into the annual elections. They swept into power with 40 plus votes. They then decided that they needed to serve the larger community and pulled all the fund raising material from the school, popcorn machine, cotton candy machine, coffee pot, cash register, BBQ, shirts and sweaters, books, paper, pens and pencils and even the napkin holders. They have run a couple elaborate fund raisers that have cost almost as much to put on as they brought in. They are currently $600 to the black after having decided to not pay their bills from last spring ($1700 for the Book fair). Parents and teachers have stepped up and are now fund raising seperately for the school. The school superintendent and School Board are curently in favor of giving the PTO all they ask for and washing their hands of the whole thing.

Community Advice

luresa writes:
the school my son attends has a PFC, which I am told is just like a PTO-a 501c3 corporation. However, their bylaws state specifically that at any time, the 9 board members (and only those 9 board members) can choose to give any money they have to any non-profit organization in the country. I am fighting to try and have these outdated and inappropriate bylaws changed and am getting absolutely nowhere after two years. It seems important to me because our school PFC takes about 300,000.00 per school year of our(parents) money and then does not have to be accountable to any of us...only the 9 board members have a say.good luck with your mission

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