Question: dependent PTO

We are a dependent PTO, We are using the schools EIN and Tax exempt status. We are back in our school after it being shut down for repairs for 2 years and now is re opened as a new school. I know Bylaws are important and we will be making some. However, I would like to know the following: Is it true by laws are not needed as a dependent pto? Is it true the principle can disband the PTO overall is there is continued drama? And if he does the money is property of the district to do what they want with? Is it true that if we allot a specific amount of money to the principle for use on teachers appreciation that if he chooses to use it on something else he can? Can they choose not to have elections and appoint officers? Again we are dependent we do not hold our own bank account or EIN. Thanks

Asked by Anonymous



Community Advice

Blumtnmama writes:
As long as the PTO is run in a dependent status, and no per-existing bylaws exist, then I think that the bad news is - yes. While bylaws are not required in such an environment, they would still be wise to institute, and should help significantly to reduce the 'drama.' Following Robert's Rules Of Order would also be a really good idea.

We are struggling with this issue as well. We are a 'dependent' PTO where many parents were/are under the impression that the PTO was/is actually independent. None of the officers seem to be aware of the concepts of independent and parent driven governance, which shocks many of us (rural market, and those shocked are all people who moved from larger metropolitan areas). We are struggling to find where the voice of the parents fits in and how to craft new bylaws (because the old ones were 'lost' immediately following a highly contested officer election, and which the school principal stated that we don't actually 'need.' He is correct, I believe, in light of our dependent status). I would be very interested in finding statistics on PTOs which are self governed vs those in dependent status. Is there any data out there to combat the "but all the schools around us do it this way" objection?

Advice from PTO Today

Craig writes:
Interesting question. We don't have any hard statistics, but in our experience -- 16 years of publishing PTO Today and working with parent groups -- I'd say 75% of PTOs are independent. In other words, they have at least their own EIN and some form of bylaws. I'd also say that the majority of groups that aren't independent are at private or parochial schools where the overall (school) structure is different than at public schools.

In general, I'd say either way can work and either way can be a challenge. You do have more control, especially over the money, if you are independent. But the personality of the principal plays a major role in either case. It's sounds like you have an overly controlling principal who maybe doesn't really understand the value that parent involvement and a PTO can bring. Your best course is probably to educate him about that and work to gain his trust as much as you can.

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