Question: Discretionary and Receipts

I was the treasurer of my child's school PTO for the 2014-2015 school year. During that time, the Principal was allowed to receive $2,000 in funds (discretionary), in which I was the only Board member not to approve. I requested (via email) that we have receipts to be documented. Before I left (as treasurer), I never received the receipts. Now, as a parent, I asked for it again, this is the response I got "The Board has reviewed the receipts and have determined that the same were sufficient to support the annual gift to the school. We are not in the practice of sending out copies of our records to parents." Do I have the right to see the receipts? Thanks, Rich

Asked by rjmat



Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Not in a legal sense. Nonprofits are required to make their form 990 filings (IRS returns) public, but there's no requirement that detailed financial records like receipts be public. However, we strongly recommend transparency — sharing fincancial information with the parents who support the PTO and the school almost always makes the PTO stronger.

The one caveat I would make is that some groups set up a discretionary fund to allow the principal to help needy students. In that case, privacy rules don't allow the school to report on which students are being helped. But you can ask for a listing of expenses that doesn't include the names of students.

Community Advice

gjcoram writes:
My PTO has a "principal's expenses" line item, but I never write a check unless I have receipts backing them up.

Community Advice

rjmat writes:
I agree that I should have receipts to support the line item expense. Since my question, I have resigned from the Board and this was one of the reasons why. I am a financial person and didn't feel comfortable. I have since asked for copies of what was spent, I was rejected and will not be able to see those receipts. My suspicious is that there are no receipts. We should be transparent, but that is not the case.

Community Advice

wcsfirecracker writes:
Treasurers reports should be available at all times and should be at the monthly pto meetings. There should be a receipt for all purchases. If the principal wants an expense line item and the pto approves that then all of the purchases should be transparent. If the PTO Board is being secretive about expenditures then someone needs to speak up. Request an audit from an outside source. Something is very wrong if no one wants to show any records. PTO's job is raise money for the students and teacher benefits. PTO survives off of the community. The people have every right to know where their money is being spent.

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