Question: pto finances

being a board member of a pto every time i ask for budget report receipts expenditures I can never get this information. Our pto also has a way of changing by-laws to suit their needs. We had 6 meetings schedule this yr they have only held two, changed the by-laws agian to say they only need to hold 2 meetings. they have a blacklist of paid pto board members that are not welcome to participate because they just dont like them. they showed a loss on one of their 501 3 c tax returns for a book fair of 1200.00 would not give a reason way? there is so much more to all of this we just dont know where to go or who to go to to get the answers we need I hope you can help thankyou so very much

Asked by auntkimstaples



Advice from PTO Today

Rose H writes:
Hi auntkimstaples,

So, it sounds like there is a whole lot going on here. For starters, the PTO board should not be just changing by-laws. There's a process it should follow to establish new rules/processes, which should then be voted on before they are added to the bylaws.

But it seems like there are even bigger issues going on. The group should be making its financial information available to members on a regular basis. It can't simply forbid people to attend meetings or participate, unless there clearly are issues about those parents.

When is the last time this group held elections? There must be some kind of term limits for the existing board and it sounds like it's time to bring in new blood.

If you get serious pushback on any of this, you might consider enlisting the principal to let him or her know what's going on and seek help in facilitating a conversation. If the parent group is being run as badly as you suggest, it isn't benefitting the school community as it is intended to do.

Community Advice

auntkimstaples writes:
Rose: We have talked to the Principal, Vice Principal, the Superintendant of schools and the school board no one seems to care they are calling it a cat fight which is rediculous we have a petition asking for the removal of the executive board which is only three woman they voted the VP out they called her a spy and also said she had a secret hidden agenda. We have 70 signatures still nothing is done we are almost out of the school year but we are still on top of this . How do you get some one to look at the finances to find out what is going on Please Help!!!!

Community Advice

firefighter464 writes:
So sorry to hear all your are dealing with. Sad that folks in power can be so abusive of a group supposed to help the kids... I empathize.

Rose is well-meaning but largely incorrect in that the principal/superintendent/anyone connected to the school or even state organizations/watchdogs of school matters have absolutely no say so or for that matter motivation to help you. You are not within their realm of control AT ALL. Sure, they will love you and work with you when things are going smoothly--or, as in my case, the Superintendent and principal will even take checks written to PTO and say you are one in the same thing so it's no big deal, just a little procedural error--but as soon as you show signs of trouble or protest they come up with the ol' 'hey, wait a minute, you are a separate organization from the school, I'm not getting involved. Frankly, put fingers in ears and say I can't hear you!'

It opens up liability for them. You are not the school. Their lawyers will remind them of that. You are a wholly separate 501 3 c charitable organization. Think of it that way and you'll realize this is in your lap to deal with.

PTO is not PTA, so you also aren't part of the larger PTA association.

If there are actual crimes here you still won't get help from cops or any prosecutors because you are too small a fish. And unpopular to question a cute little PTO organization come election time.

All that said, you can only change from within. Get as many parents to come hear you as you can. I;m not sure I understand you, you say you are a board member? And you have 70 on your side? So why can't you call for a special meeting and address each and every concern with a motion raised, seconded, debated, and voted upon?

If for whatever reason you are railroaded/attacked and can't get it done that way using Roberts Rules, then take my advice, walk away and throw your efforts into what you know can help the kids and your school until that PTO mess implodes. It will. Just not it he time frame you might like.

Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Hey Firefighter -- I know you've been through some very difficult times in your own group, but it's absolutely not true that all principals want to wash their hands of the PTO or PTA in times of trouble. In fact, we hear from a lot more groups that struggle with principals trying to micromanage than the other way around. Bottom line, it depends on the specific school and the specific principal.

I agree with your advice that fighting from within makes sense. I would add that it's election time -- 70 supporters is enough in just about any group to elect a new president.

I also agree that there's a point where it's not worth banging your head against the wall. At some point there's nothing wrong with knowing you fought the good fight and moving on to donate your volunteer time to an organization that will appreciate it.

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