Question: Excluding Kids from Events During the School Day

Hi there! I am a parent and for the second year in a row, the PTO is sponsoring a fundraiser that requires the kids sell a minimum of 8 items in order to attend a school party called "Xtreme Fest" (games, inflatables, cash, etc.). If the kids do not sell the minimum number of items, they have to sit in a study hall during the time of the event. I approached the PTO last year and voiced my concerns and suggested they offer a "buy out" or "opt out" (which still doesn't solve the problem for low income kids or kids who are unable to sell) or that the school as a whole has to sell a minimum amount to have the event. I told them I felt it was discriminatory and no kids should be excluded from anything held during the school day. They agreed and said they couldn't get out of it this year because they were under contract with the fundraising company, but would look at revising it for this year. Well, got the fundraiser home and not only did they not revise it, but the number of items they needed to sell increased. It seems like this should not be allowable. If classrooms do fundraisers, the whole class gets to participate in the pizza party or whatever the reward is, so why would this be any different? Can someone steer me in the right direction? The principal and PTO didn't seem to take notice, but I will not stand by and let a bunch of kids sit in a classroom listening to a giant party down the hall. Talk about bullying... Sheesh.

Asked by donnellprobst



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
I certainly understand your concerns -- at some point the desire to reward the kids who work on the fundraiser also becomes a punishment for the kids who didn't. Different schools handle this different ways, but one good solution involves a celebration for the whole school where -- if this is considered a priority -- some of the kids get an extra reward or recognition for their success. For one thing, a celebration that involves the whole school is a lot better for promoting school spirit and a sense of community than one that leaves out a percentage of students (which can actually be divisive).

One thing the parent group leaders may not realize is that rewards programs like this are negotiable. Just because a fundraising company has a standard program for rewards doesn't mean it can't be altered to better suit your school's needs. A good sales rep should be able to listen to the PTO's concerns and help come up with an approach that works for the school and the fundraising company.

I'm wondering in the case you describe whether the PTO leaders might feel that they have a good and successful fundraiser, so they want to stick with it -- even if the rewards program isn't what they would like it to be. But if the fundraising company has been around for awhile, it's likely they've run into this concern before. It would be worth going back to them to discuss alternatives.

Community Advice

jmapenguin writes:
I think thats just awful. Our school has a goal for each child, but the child isn't punished if they don't make that goal. Never has. I think the only way to sovle this is for you to run for president next year and do what a PTO should be doing. Taking care of all the students, not just the few they feel like standing up for. I'm with ya. : )

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