Question: Problem Parent

Question, Parent turned in a nomination form to be on the E-Board for next year. Problem is, no one wants to sit on an E-Board with this person and if it comes down to it all will step down if this person comes on board. How do you handle a situation like this?

Asked by Anonymous



Community Advice

firefighter464 writes:
Exactly WHAT is wrong with this person other than the childish ostracism by your membership? A true leader (if you have one) makes everyone feel welcome and resolves differences, rather than plays that game of perpetuatiing it and never communicating honestly. Step up and speak out. Air the issues in a professional manner. Here's a start: Use the words "tell me about it" Ask these "no ones" (And yourself) WHY don't you want to sit on the board with this person? Tell me about it. Then provide that feedback to the person and see if the issues can be resolved in a mature adult manner. Sheesh.

Advice from PTO Today

Rose H writes:
Firefighter464 is onto something here. The question is what is so horrible about this parent? Sounds like the parent is seen as a problem. What kind of problems has this person caused? Even if there is some history, shouldn't this person be given a chance? And, shouldn't the election process be given a chance? Let it take its natural course -- if this person is elected, then some folks support him or her. If this person ends up on your board, then it's time to figure out a way everyone can all work together, rather than taking a stand and all stepping down. This is a moment when a PTO President can really shine and try to bring everyone together. You don't all have to be best friends, but you can work together. PTOs can benefit from different points of view as long as discussions are polite and stay focused on the kids.

Community Advice

CMS writes:
I really dont want to go into detail about what this particular parent has done on a daily basis. It wasn't towards myself but towards another board member and it has been an nightmare all year and really has taken a toll on the members that are not being targeted directly. Bashing the PTO in front of the school at pick up, personally attacking one of the board members on a daily basis. It has gone as far as a law suit between the two. It's been exhausting dealing with it. It has been tried over and over again for them to "work it out" and it's just not going to happen. There is so much more to this but I really don't want to post it all here.

Community Advice

firefighter464 writes:
Understood. Are you yourself in a position to handle this? Are you an officer? Rose is right in that the election just needs to proceed as normal. Don't worry until you have to. If no one wants her, as you say, she won’t get elected, no?

But I feel your pain in wanting this problem to go away regardless. You’ve come here for help. Bravo.

Compare this to knowing a bitter divorced couple. Each of them is ALWAYS ragging on the other, eventually you just don't want to be friends with either of them. It is exhausting listening to them, but if you will notice, all you have to do is walk away and not play their game. Change the subject when they talk about the ex. Some people, true, don’t pick up on such subtle clues. So then you just say, I would prefer you don’t tell me about your ex, there’s nothing I can do and your stress is stressing me out. The key being this: Let’s find something else we can share as friends that’s less stressful for both of us. Your friend isn’t complaining just to hurt you, she’s trying to find empathy and understanding. And as a friend you can help her by redirecting her angst in more useful ways.

In this case, no PTO wants empty complainers and solely vindictive problem-causers. But this is rarely if ever the case. It’s not unusual among women who co-depend emotionally that others are ‘exhausted’ dealing with what seems to be a situation primarily involving one board member. You've probably put in a great deal of effort to make this person feel unwanted. Sorry, but this is the most polite way I know to say this: Get your nose out of their business. The idea that you need to support your board member and fight her battle with her/for her as the PTO is misguided. That is NOT what PTO is supposed to be doing as its mission. Leave friendships out of PTO entirely. It’s a non-profit business that needs proper management, not a social club.

Beyond the personal angle, you say this person bashes the PTO. What doe she say? Are her observations correct, even if you don’t want to admit it? Is she offering ways to change what she sees wrong? If so, listen. Tell her you’ve heard her and she will likely not continue what appears to be a battle just trying to be heard. If she’s offering no solutions, kindly ask her to realize that everyone who is working at PTO is trying their best and if she doesn’t want to be part of the solution she needs to stop empty complaining. This really doesn’t seem to be the case if she’s wanting nomination to the e-board.

Ultimately, I see it that this person wants to be heard. Give her a proper chance to HAVE A VOICE. Make it clear you will not as a PTO let anyone bully her. Have you all spent your exhaustive time trying to silence her? It’s like child raising. Kids cry for a reason. It IS exhausting. But when you find out exactly why they’re crying, that’s when you can get them to cooperate with you.

Community Advice

CMS writes:
We have stayed out of it and let it be between the ones involved. I have been neutral thru the whole thing and I'm just tired of the bickering and negative impact it has brought. The parent has been heard all year long, everyone walks on egg shells b/c of this particular parent b/c of what she might say or might do. We have told the parent over and over again to volunteer, to head up a committee she is interested in, etc.

I have not supported my board member on this, I have made it very clear that she needed to put personal issues aside. Yes she bashes the PTO to everyone and anyone who will listen. She is heard, trust me on that one, not only outside of school but at the PTO meetings.
We have done an amazing job this year with fundraising, a book fair that was district recongnized and yet to her, we still did it all wrong. She use to be on the PTO years ago, before I came to the school. She has made threats to the principal saying he will lose his job, basically if she doesnt get what she wants.

Like I said, there is so much more to this. So much more and it breaks my heart that I am not coming back next year to the board b/c of all that has happened. We were drug thru the mud b/c of a personal vendetta against one member. Makes me sick knowing adults treat each other like this. I may be being selfish by stepping down but you have no idea what has transpired thru out this school year and I can't put myself thru that again.

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