Question: Principal woes! :-( really need help!

We have a principal who is very controling. Everything we do HAS to be approved first from her. I do mean EVERYTHING right down to talking to a class teacher about an idea we have for their grade level. Ex. 5th grade picnic since it is their last year at our school. Our principal also controls every penny we make and spend. She also uses PTO money for whatever she feels like. We are a new PTO group and we have no real idea where to start. We do not even have bylaws yet because she has to approve the idea first and well... we are a bit scared of her. She is a very in your face kind of person who intimadates not only us but the staff and children also... ANY ideas or advice would REALLY be gratefull!!

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Wow, what a difficult situation! Your principal sounds like a serious micromanager. Do the teachers feel that way? It might be worth finding out how others in the school deal with her. There are two things you need to do, and neither is easy. First, you have to find out what exactly her concerns are about the PTO -- is she afraid that parent involvement will be disruptive? Is she concerned that parents can't manage the money? etc. When you find out what the concerns are, you need to address them directly, whether it's putting financial controls in place, creating a system that minimizes the burden on teachers, etc. The second thing you need to do is to draw a line between your group and the principal. One way to do this is to stop fundraising until you get organized. Get your bylaws in place, officers elected, bank account opened, get an Employer Identification Number from the IRS, and even file incorporation papers with your state corporations office. Make it clear and official that your group is an independent organization. That won't make you immune from meddling, but it will help create a line between your efforts on behalf of the school -- where you want the principal's input -- and your day-to-day operations, which are better handled by parents themselves. In fact, no principal has the time to manage a PTO. By demonstrating that your group is organized and professional (in a sense), you'll lessen her fears and she'll relax her grip over time. Check out our page on dealing with the principal for some helpful resources. I'd also recommend the story How To Deal With Difficult People, and our Bylaws and Nonprofit page has some links that will help you get organized. Good luck, and please let us know how things go!

Community Advice

jenilou28 writes:
Most school districts have a handbook of sorts that dictates the role a principal can have in the school's PTO. Many do not allow for this type of "micromanagement". It may also be against your states rules or non-profits for the principal to "run" things.

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