Question: Parents rights to request documents from the PTO

Our PTO has a large amt of money they can't or won't a count for. They are now operating in the negative by a few thousand. We, parents who have donated much time and money to activities put on by the PTO have questioned what happened to the money and requested bank statements and ledgers. They won't give us anything. What are our rights? Who holds them accountable for this missing money?

Asked by Londonmom9



Community Advice

gjcoram writes:
Who holds them accountable? -- you do, by asking these questions.

IRS rules require the annual tax returns (Form 990/990-EZ) for 501c3 organizations to be open to the public; there are specific requirements about you being able to request a copy at their "main office."

In an ideal world, you would have access to a copy of the by-laws, and the by-laws would specify the duties of the treasurer, which would include providing monthly reports on the budget. If the treasurer does not fulfill his/her duties, then our by-laws provide a procedure for the general membership of the PTO to remove the treasurer from office.

What do you mean "operating in the negative" -- did they overdraw a bank account?

Community Advice

Londonmom9 writes:
Our PTO balance is negative $3000+. They have only provided partial ledgers and no bank statements. The ledgers have several check numbers missing and the treasurer will not respond to emails or calls and at the last meeting when asked to provide her email, responded with a made up one. By their own admission is operating in the negative.

Community Advice

firefighter464 writes:
Speaking from real-life experience here: You have a major problem. Clearly the PTO is being deceptive, abusing power, and feeling untouchable and being non-accountable liars. Gjcoram is right. The only entity that holds PTOs accountable is you the members. There is no enforcement entity for a PTO. Don't waste your time trying to seek help anywhere else. Principals won't help, school boards, superintendents. They will all wash their hands and declare you are a separate entity (unless they want your $, then it's a different story!) And if you are in a small town like we are, don't dare put a letter to the editor into your local paper in any attempt to contact a wider range of parents who may be unaware of their PTO goings on. That lets the bad guys single you out and gives them time to circle their wagons and attack you. I got publicly slandered when I spoke up about $ missing from our PTO. Ridiculous claims that I redirected checks and the superintendent even gave me deposit slips 'proving' it. (You see when it benefited him he was involved in PTO.) But I got the actual cancelled checks to prove his facts were faked. And then he stopped talking to me about it. Huh. We also had uniformed police officers assigned to PTO meetings possibly to intimidate local folks from joining our side. I was told by school board members to follow the chain of command and go to the officers and school board (but, of course, see above. That's a waste of time and you know it but they waste your time saying it anyway because they want to intimidate and silence and control you.) Don't mean to scare you. You need to do the right thing and I sense you want to straighten things out in your PTO. I applaud you. But you need to know where you stand. And you will stand alone if you don't stop trying to email and call. Go seek out parents/members in person so you can sign them on to attend the next meeting (if necessary set up childcare for everyone and carpool them in your vehicle to meet any objections and get them there en masse. Bring moms AND dads.) with you and stand together to make the necessary motions and second them and then vote on them immediately. Outnumber the officers and overrule them. If necessary to combat the officers who will set roadblocks in your path every step, get a brave soul to stand up and speak over top the officer who will be trying to deny your rights to say very loudly things like 'let's put this to a vote: show of hands? OK, motion carried." Make a motion to get copies of the bylaws right there. Are they at an officer's home? OK, you'll wait while she goes to fetch them. (Make that as a motion seconded and voted in, too) She can't? Offer to drive her there and back. (Make a motion, second it, vote get the picture.) (Which reminds me, the officers may unilaterally decide to limit debate to shut you all down--mine did. But Roberts Rules says that too has to be made as a motion and second and vote. So know your rights: they can't put limiting debate into place unless you vote it. Be sure to bring a majority number!) With bylaws in hand next move to follow them to assert your rights to see the finances. Again, don't accept answers like 'we'll get those for the next meeting' or maybe if absolutely stonewalled that they can't produce them then and there, make a motion for a special meeting to be held the very next night and vote that in. Revolution is what it will take. You probably also want to see what's in bylaws for removing officers. If you dare stand it alone you will find yourself horribly vehemently attacked, ridiculed, ostracized, threatened, etc. Believe me evil folks in power in a PTO don't like being questioned or held accountable.

Community Advice

Londonmom9 writes:
Firefighter464...I LIKE U! Thanks for all the advice:)

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