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Local unit threated by State PTA over PTO plans

13 years 4 months ago #155472 by M.Grout
I am co-president of my local PTA chapter in Georgia. I write this to give insight to all local PTAs on how their state PTA's might really operate when the words "PTO" and "dissolution" come up.

Today, our PTA membership planned to take a vote on dissolving our local unit as of June 30, 2010 (the end of our fiscal year.) Until that date, we planned to operate appropriately as a PTA, and spend PTA funds in accordance with our PTA budget, and follow all bylaws. We would "technically" dissolve until the end of June. Then,we planned to become a PTO on July 1, 2010. The parents were officially notified of the proposal to dissolve at the end of the fiscal year in early November, with the vote to be on Dec 1st. We sent out a great deal of written information in the meantime, and invited questions from our parents on the issue. We updated the parents on the questions and responses to issues that concerned them. We recieved overwhelming support from our parents to go PTO.

At 7AM this morning (2.5 hours before our meeting was to start) the Georgia State PTA president emailed to tell us that she would be attending our meeting, and that if we voted to dissolve, even if it was as of June 30, they would seize our charter TODAY and our funds. Our local PTA account has approximately $90,000 in it at this time.

The Georgia PTA president was confronted by me as to why she waiting until 2 hrs prior to the meeting to inform us of this, and she admitted that while she had been aware of this vote well prior to today, it was only today that she "had time" to inform us of their plan to seize the charter immediately (and potentially the funds). Basically, any local chapter taking any vote to even discuss dissolution can mean immediate loss of charter, and a freezing of your bank account.

At the meeting, she informed our parents that we had failed to follow proper "procedures" to dissolve...even though she admitted there were no such procedures contained in the bylaws. Likewise, the "checklist" we are supposed to follow to dissolve that she referenced is not made readily available on their website. In fact, it was nothing more than a word document that she emailed to us that morning. Many angry parents confronted her about this "hidden" dissolution process...and she informed the entire room that the State PTA's goal was to make this dissolution process as difficult as it can be for a local unit that wants to become a PTO. Her statement that "we want to make this as difficult as possible for you" absolutely stunned the parents in the room.

In the end, we decided to table the vote for dissolution until closer to the end of the school year, to avoid them being able to seize any real money at all when we dissolve.

Many parents in the room got the sense the Georgia State PTA is very worried about our dissolution, because it will cause several of our other local schools to do the same thing. (other schools in our area have already made rumblings about doing it.)

Shockingly, when I told the State PTA president that the State PTA's behavior in this situation will only mean horrendous public relations for the State PTA... she said they don't care.

Our parents are now more determined than ever to become a PTO. A few that were on the fence are now solidly for it, after seeing the way the State PTA chose to proceed. To be prudent, we do now have an attorney from a large law firm representing our local chapter (pro bono) to handle any possible attempt by the Georgia PTA to seize our charter (and funds) based the threats they have made, and based on the fact there are "secret" procedures that we are expected to follow that aren't contained in our bylaws or those of the State PTA.

If any other local units have had similar experiences (in GA or any state) I would love to hear about them.
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