Question: Interference and Dominance

I am the Secretary of a first-year PTC. There are 4 board members, a teacher-liason, and the School Principal (they are not members of the Board). The problerm that we are having is that the Principal and the liason have begun to dominate the meetings and in one particular case, our Principal ok'd a very large sum of the PTC's money to be used for a dance -- that there is no guarantee that we will get a decent return on! How do I/we stop the dominance and interference without causing hurt feelings or starting a war? This has been a nightmare and it's beginning to have a negative affect on the board (ie: we dont' want to go to meetings any longer) and our membership (ie: they can't stand the drama). HELP!

Asked by cdadabo



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
From your description, it sounds like the principal might perceive that there's a leadership vacuum, and he's stepping in to help make things run better. That may not be the case; it may be simply a matter of styles -- quick and decisive (him) vs. careful and thoughtful (the board). But one thing is clear -- you have to start becoming more assertive. Don't just sit back and let the principal run things. Your president has to step up and take over. Two simple steps that will help if you're not already doing this: Set an agenda and stick to it, and vote on everything. Stated another way, make your meetings more formal so the principal will have less opportunity to ram through his own agenda, and stick together to create a unified front. Set a standing date to add agenda items, say three days before the meeting. A week in advance, send out an email reminder. Then send out the agenda the day before the meeting. If something new comes up during the meeting that you don't want to deal with, vote to table it. If an expenditure is proposed that you're all against, vote unanimously against it. If the principal asks you to reconsider, vote unanimously again. Start the meeting by having the president call it to order, pass out the agenda, then go through the items one by one. That's how you will set the stage that the president is running the meeting, not the pricipal. And she has to be strong about sticking to the agenda in order. The rest of you can help keep things on track by pointing out when a topic goes astray. You're principal may find this somewhat frustrating at first, but just point out that it's basic Robert's Rules and the way a meeting should be run. I have three articles that I think will help: How To Deal With Difficult People, Robert's Rules: What You Should Know, and Quit Being So Nice! Good luck. It may be hard at first to make things more formal, but I think if you stick to it for a short time you'll find things will get a lot better.

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