Question: Unruly member

Hi all I am having a big problem that I really need help with. There is a member on our committee (not an officer) who is purposefully trying to undermine the PTO. She had a lot of pull with parents in the school and has been spreading false rumors about the chairwoman. We adopted Robert's Rules of Order but there is nothing in the rules in regards to this specific situation. Should we confront the member and reprimand her in the next meeting? Our primary concern is undermining the PTO.

Asked by Anonymous



Advice from PTO Today

Rose H writes:
Hi anonymous,
This type of situation is a pain in the neck, isn't it? But a few things: Not sure what types of things this person is saying to undermine the chairwoman. There can be annoying gossip and then there's the stuff that is malicious and can truly hurt the group. If it is in the latter category, you could certainly approach her if the opportunity presents itself (say, in a casual way before a meeting) and ask her how things are going, how she thinks things are going this year, and see what she says. Give her the opportunity to voice her concerns directly to you. Her response will reveal plenty, including if she has serious concerns and is grateful you are interested in her opinion or she just likes to whisper negative comments.

Secondly, if you know of specific things that are being said about the group that are untrue, you can address this in a meeting by giving an update on those things. But, don't directly raise the issue that there has been gossip about those things. Just say, I want to update you on our playground project…..and give the facts.

Finally, take heart. There will always be a few folks who gossip or say bad things about your group. If they are yapping about things that are simply untrue and you address these in a meeting (as described above), you should be just fine.

All the best,
Rose C.

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