Question: Does a PTO have to have bylaws? If they do not what are the consequences?

If a PTO does not have bylaws or valid bylaws what are the consequences of not having them? What are the rules if there are not rules? If the PTO is being run without bylaws and the current officers in charge do not care to even respond to any inquiries about the bylaws how can concerned parents deal with this issue? When the officers are asked if they have valid bylaws, ein and tax exemption and any other documentation they members are treated with hostility. What are the options here? The PTO members are never asked to participate in any voting. All decisions have been made by the officers and the members are just randomly informed of these decisions. The members can not bring up that they bylaws are not being followed because they are unable to get a copy. Does a PTO have to have bylaws? If there are no bylaws .... what are the options? Don't you have to have bylaws to get EIN and Tax exemption? Can a PTO be legal if they do not have bylaws? Can a PTO that does not have bylaws be reported to anyone? Whom can the other members go to get these if the current officers are just refusing to share? What if they are refusing because they are no longer valid and they just do not want to update them? Does the Principal have any power to make the officers provide them?

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Rose H writes:
Technically, a parent group is not mandated to  have bylaws, but few would argue that this approach is a good idea. If a group wishes to incorporate or apply for 501(c)(3) non-profit status, it must have bylaws. If your group operates as an offshoot of the school or has just established itself as a parent group, there are officially no requirements for bylaws.

But it makes sense for a member or members of your group to forward the idea that establishing bylaws is simply a smart thing to do. Having bylaws will save time and (and in some cases, stress and upset). Once there is a set of guidelines, your group will find decision making much more manageable because the basic rules are already established. We'd recommend you take a look at our bylaws resources, including:

How To Write PTO Bylaws

10 Key Points About Bylaws

Sample Bylaws from your File Exchange

Hope this is helpful,
Rose C.

Community Advice

Knoblochs1 writes:
I attend a very small private school of students with disabilities. We have about 45 students at the school. Last year I started, with the principals blessings, a PTO. It was a huge success! As we have moved into this new school year the Board of the school asked us to establish b
Bylaws which we worked on this summer. Now, they are rethinking that and asking for the PTO to operate as a committee. I am not understanding how this would look. Can you please advise?

Community Advice

jazzie1973 writes:

Let me ask do you have your own tax exemption? There are two different ways to run a PTO one that is independent of the school, hence their own tax id and so on, then there is the dependent PTO. A dependent PTO relies on the school financial officer to handle all the book keeping and holds the bank account. If are dependent then I would say operating as a committee would not make much difference then what you are doing now. Unless they want to tell you want events you are going to do rather then let you choose. I would get the school to clarify what they are requesting you to do. In there minds what are they wanting from the PTO and see if your comfortable with it.

We run as a dependent, we run all money thru the financial officer at the school. We have a admin that works very well with us and we have not had any problems.

Community Advice

Knoblochs1 writes:
Thanks for responding! We are under the umbrella of the schools non-profit status. We do not handle our own finances, do not have our own bank account. All the money is managed by the office and it worked very well last year like that and so we will continue to do that this year. Let me ask you, do you run as a committee or as a PTO with a president, secretary, treasurer? The school is good with the areas we are involved in. Do you have a budget for the school year? So you establish that or the school financial officer? Do you have bylaws? I have never served on a board or a committee so this is relatively new for me. I am not understanding how a PTO like we have been doing runs as a committee since it is ongoing....Any input is appreciated! I am on a fast track learning curve :) thanks!

Advice from PTO Today

Rose H writes:
Hi Knoblochs1!
One suggestion: Check out our PTO & PTA Leaders group of Facebook. I think you'll find if you post this type of question there, you'll get responses from peers who have shared very similar experiences. Here's the link:

Good luck -- and thanks for being part of our community!


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