Question: Relationships of executive board members

We are in the beginning stages of establishing bylaws for our group, and at our next meeting will be officially filling the positions of the executive board. At our last meeting one of the members who is currently very active voiced her concern at having siblings serve together on the executive board. It is her opinion that the five-member board should *not* be allowed to have two individuals who are related in any capacity. We have already established in our bylaws that each household only gets one vote, which eliminates the potential to have both parties of a marriage sitting on the board. Are there official rules that govern whether it is appropriate or not to have siblings serve on the board together? Thanks so much! Sara

Asked by SHayesMiller



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Hi Sara -- Congratulations on getting up and running, and best wishes to you and your new group. I haven't run across the specific provision you mention, and there are no rules either from the IRS or Robert's Rules that would prevent siblings from serving together. The one thing I'll say is that although your group may have plenty of participation now, there will come a time -- as it does for all groups -- when volunteerism is down and you struggle to fill the offices. At that time you might be thrilled to have two sisters who decide they want to serve together and take on the workload. In general, I think for the long-term health of your group it's best to avoid any bylaws that discourage people from helping out to the best of their abilities. If you have concerns now about two siblings holding board positions, that's a perfectly legitimate topic to bring up during the election. People can cast their ballots accordingly.

Community Advice

kstoltz writes:
We have had husband and wives serve on the board together and it's actually wonderful. Another school in town had a husband/wife serve as co-presidents and it worked really well for their community. We've also had sisters and best friends serve at the same time and it's been great. Good luck!

Community Advice

jenilou28 writes:
I think a bigger problem to have would be to have PTO Officers who are immediate family members of that particular school's aculty/staff! As far as preventing amily members from serving together, this is an unfair rule. Just because the individuals are related does not mean they share the same views. They might not even be close in their relationship!

Community Advice

akjmom writes:
It will definitely be something to decide and then make policy in your bylaws. We are from a small school and only have 4 officers, the teacher liaison is the tie breaker, when needed. In our circumstances we don't allow family members to "officially" serve on the board together. One can hold the title of the position and the other is welcome to assist, but both can NOT be on the board at the same time. I guess my best advice, is to find what works best for your school and then put the practice into the bylaws or the procedure handbook (as that is easier to change than a bylaw, once it is in place). Good luck!

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