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Collaboration between PTO and school is crucial to success, but it's also important to know who has final say when disputes arise.

by Sandra Pfau Englund


How much control does your local school board, superintendent, or principal attempt to exercise over the PTO? Recently, I attended the first PTO meeting at my children’s new school. I was surprised to learn that the local board of education has issued rules attempting to regulate the operation of school parent and booster organizations. Some of the regulations make sense, but others may go beyond the legal authority of the school board and hamper the ability of the PTO to operate effectively.

If a PTO is a program of the school—it is set up and managed by the school—then the school may supervise and control the activities of the PTO. In such a case, however, the school also is liable in a legal sense for the activities of its PTO program. For independent PTOs, those that are separately incorporated or that operate as independent, unincorporated associations of parents, the school has more limited authority. The school may supervise and control an independent PTO regarding the use of school facilities and the activities students engage in during school hours or as part of a school program. Beyond that, however, the PTO’s own rules—constitution or articles of incorporation and bylaws—should control.

One crucial note before we get into specifics. Principals and parent groups each hold considerable power to make the other’s work easy—and miserable. Know your group’s rights and stand up for them, but do it through discussion and negotiation. Divisiveness and animosity hurt the school and the children. You don’t want to create a situation like that whenever it can be avoided, and your principal shouldn’t, either.

The whats, whys, and hows of 501(c)(3) and incorporation, plus all your FAQs

At my children’s new school the school board has set forth regulations, including these three:

  • The group must receive approval from the principal when planning functions in which students will participate.

  • The use of school facilities must be requested through the principal.

  • All items donated by parent or booster groups become the property of the school, and the school may use or later modify or sell those items.

These regulations are within the legal authority of the school. Any activity involving students, including distributing fundraising materials or PTO newsletters through the classrooms or organizing assemblies or other enrichment activities in which the students will participate, may be controlled by the school. In addition, any activity involving school facilities, such as an annual fall fair or other fundraisers, may require the approval of the school for use of the facilities owned and controlled by the school.

Also, items donated to the school become the property of the school to do with as desired. For example, it may upset PTO members to learn that computers they donated have been sold or used in the library rather than the classrooms designated by the parent group, but once the items have been donated, the PTO has no legal authority over them.


Other rules of my local school board go beyond its legal authority.

  • Parent and booster organizations must submit their annual fundraising plans to the school principal, and the plans then must be approved by the school board prior to the start of the school year.

  • The principal must approve and supervise all fundraising activities.

  • The mutual agreement of the principal is required prior to purchasing equipment, supplies, or materials for the school.

  • All funds of parent groups must be deposited in either FDIC or FSLIC institutions.

  • An outside audit of financial records must be conducted each year, and a copy of the report must be submitted to the principal and the school system’s finance officer.

  • Funds of any parent or booster group must revert to the school if the group dissolves.

Annual fundraising plans are submitted to the school board to ensure that multiple schools are not attempting to sell candy or wrapping paper at the same time. However, the rule also may hinder the local PTO if it comes up with a new fundraising idea during the year and is unable to move forward with it.

Legally, an independent parent group may raise funds for a school without anyone’s approval. The PTO can even state, without the school’s approval, that the funds are being raised to purchase new computers or a playground. The school may refuse the funds or items purchased with them, but it cannot legally control the fundraising. So while cooperation is important to make sure the school wants the money raised or items purchased, sometimes schools attempt to exercise control beyond their legal authority.

Know Your Rights

Similarly, while depositing funds in secure banking institutions and conducting an annual audit are good financial practices, the school and school board have no legal authority to impose these regulations on the PTO. The school board may make suggestions regarding financial controls. However, the PTO has the authority to determine and implement its own financial practices.

In addition, the PTO may determine how its funds are distributed upon dissolution. Under IRS rules, organizations tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) must distribute funds to other (c)(3) groups upon dissolution. The school may be the logical recipient, or it may make sense to distribute the funds to a new or different parent or booster group.

Cooperation between any parent group and the school it supports is essential to carry out the mission of the PTO. However, as a PTO leader you should understand the extent of a school’s legal authority over your organization’s activities. This may allow you to make better and more informed decisions about the operation of your group.

Originally posted in 2003 and updated regularly. Sandra Pfau Englund is an attorney specializing in legal issues for PTOs and other nonprofit organizations.


# Deborah 2008-03-12 20:07
I am dealing with an issue and really could use some advice. Two other moms and I are chairperson's for our Talent show and wouls like to invite our homeschooled kids to participate. I was told that iit is stated in our bylaws that no one who is not a member of the PTO is allowed to participate. The only thing that it currently states is that non-members can not attend PTO meetings. Last year we combined school districts and since then all the children have been getting along well and I thought by allowing the homeschooled children to attend it would say to are community that we don't want to segregate anyone. Both principles were okay with the homeschool kids participating until the vice president told them that it states in the bylaws that non-members are unable to attend any PTO sponsored function. Which is completely untrue. I really need some advice on how to carry this out at the next PTO meeting. HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!
# June 2008-03-18 01:46
I have taken over the PTO at our school. The principal says that everything must be run through the school board b/c the PTO is a committee of the board. We have no PTO by-laws that I am aware of yet we have a seperate checking acct (which the secretary controls on behalf of the principal). Where do I go in Oregon to find out our PTO rights? The admin. won't even let me post a blog as a PTO website. Help! I want to get along but my hands are tied.
# Lisa 2008-03-19 14:32
I am the president of our local PTO, and we are dealing with some issues regarding our rights as a PTO. Do rights change when the school is a Private Christian Preschool? If we do not have out own 501(c)3 status and are using the Church/Preschool for that, does that give them more control of how we spend our money or what rights we have?
Thanks for your help!
# mami1978 2008-03-24 23:01
I am on the pto at my children school. I would like ot know the pros and cons of having a corporation. from what i have read, a corporation is only to protect us as group and legally we cannot be taken out as individuals and then we would also need to get insurance for our group.please elaborate more if i am incorrect
# Kathryn Lagden from PTO Today 2008-03-25 11:30
Lots of great questions here. I've reposted most of them in our Message Boards as they're the best place to ask these specific questions. Lots of knowledgeable and experienced folks there willing to help. Our PTO Today experts jump in to the conversation as well.

The URLs for the individual posts are too long to cut/paste into this comment box but if you go to ptotoday.com/boards and use the search feature (left hand side) you should be able to find the discussions. If you need help please email me at klagden (at) ptotoday (dot) com.
# Naomi LaMonto 2008-04-18 01:26
I have a question about PTO officers. Can a teacher be an executive officer? Our current officers,myself as president, is leaving after 4 years. In an attempt to not have the organzation dissovle a teacher would like to be elected to the board. We currently have only two parents interested in president & vice-president. Another question I have is, do you always need 4 officers? Our bylaws don't address these issues. They do state that OUR PTO should consist of four officers. Our teachers want the current bylaws changed, can I do that this late in the year? Should I?
# Craig Bystrynski from PTO Today 2008-04-18 09:52
Hi Naomi--The short answer is if your bylaws don't address whether a teacher can be an officer, it's OK. Read carefully, though. Some bylaws, for example, define who can be a member, then say officers must be members. Your bylaws should also spell out how they can be amended. It's important to follow those procedures exactly. As for whether you should make a change or not, we posted your question in the Robert's Rules & Bylaws section of our message boards. There are lots of people there with firsthand experience with issues like these who will be happy to offer input. Good luck!--Craig
# Sherry Browning 2008-05-05 13:30
I have a question? what is the official way an election should take place?

could you please respond asap?

# Kathryn Lagden from PTO Today 2008-05-05 14:04
HI Sherry - There should be some specifications in your bylaws about elections. This is what Robert's Rules has to say: Nomination committee presents its candidate(s) (If applicable). Floor is open to additional nominations; no second is needed. Person nominated does not have to be present but may decline. Vote by ballot, hands, or acclimation is OK (might be specified in your bylaws). Person with most votes wins, unless your bylaws specify a runoff (majority required). For more information I suggest you take a look at Robert's Rules, it has a section on Nominations and Elections.
# Sam 2008-05-05 20:45
Several parents have made requests for a copy of our PTO's bylaws and have been ignored. Throughout the year we have been active in all fund raising but are given only vague answers as to what the funds are being raised for.

The latest is a surprise meeting indicating they will be installing newly elected officers and no one knew there had been an election.
# nani perez 2008-05-14 12:53
My daughter's school is an incorporated pto, by this time several parents (including myself) were requesting from the pto officers a copy of the budget and the way that they spent the moneis raised trought different fundraisers along the school year and they just told us that there are no money left. We went to the principal office and she told us that since is and incorporated pto she can't do much. Is that true? How is that possible that a bunch of people can run a parents and teachers association , and nobody has the power to make this people answer our concerns? Is there a way that we can make this board members answer our questions? Is there a way that we can make our petitions more official or do we have to sue them?
This is a very concerned mother who love her daugthers and her daughters school. May somebody pleeeeease help us?
Nani :-)
# Kathryn Lagden from PTO Today 2008-05-15 09:52
Hi Nani - It's true that an independent parent group isn't governed by the school. However, it is governed by its own bylaws. If you and other parents want to make a change, you can do it by attending meetings,
raising agenda items, and voting. Reading the bylaws is a good place to start. You'll also find some folks who have been through difficult times with their groups on our message boards. It's a good spot to learn how others handle similar challenges and you can jump in and post your own specific question as well.
# Tee 2008-05-30 00:27
Hello I have some concerns regarding PTO at my childs school. I am the PTO president and I would like to know does the principal have the right to keep the pto check book and monitor the pto account. and does she have the right to tell the pto what they can and how much to spend and what to do. I have approached the principal regarding her controll issues with the pto and she stated that she is held responsible for what is spent and how we handle our account and that she could get fired if pto books are not correct if we are audit. Please send me some information regarding this problem. Thank you
# Kathryn Lagden from PTO Today 2008-05-30 13:31
Hi Tee -- Check out the article Make Peace With the Principal. It addresses exactly the issue you're asking about. Here's the link:
http://www.ptotoday.com/pto-today-articles/article/382. You'll also find a lot of help and advice on the message boards from folks experienced in dealing with principals: www.ptotoday.com/boards. Good
# Susan 2008-06-05 13:31
Our PTO is stating in the bylaws that you have to be an "at-large" member - voted in at the Sept meeting - and attend a certain number of PTO meetings (Can't miss more than 2) to be allowed to vote on issues. Shouldn't any parent at the school be allowed to be a member of the PTO and vote if they choose to attend a meeting (even one meeting a year)?
# mary 2008-06-18 19:50
i have some issues with our PTO.....
can adminstration---office manager,etc...be elected to the board in any position...can adminstration nominate and be part of the voting process...........is there a grace period for becoming a paid member in order to vote, like paying the night of elections....a nominee using school info to solicit the fact that she is running....can the bylaws be completely changed and where can we get some bylaws....who makes final decision on which fundraiser companies to use....i have lots of issues...the above need to be addressed and resolved before the new school year starts. thank you
# renee ellis 2008-06-21 22:32
the pto council told me to merge our pto school store in to our main treasurer(they have been seperate til now and has had no rules or checks and balance one person has a check book with 12,000 and we know nothing else) at our meeting i said that we had to merge the two and my principal over ruled me and said no let's keep it the same and at the end of the year they'll report to us. the pto has no idea what's coming in or out, that's why the pto council on advice of cpa's to merge the two, i don't think he can do this. please help
# renee ellis 2008-06-23 10:58
our school has a pto store but forever it has had it's own check and bank acct. they never check with the pto on income or expenses. well our pto council(via the irs) has told me as the president to merge the store into the main pto acct, but my principal over ruled me at our pto mting in front of everyone. i see that in know your rights that he can't tell us what to do with our financial practices. what to do
# Kim 2008-09-12 02:57
We have a carry over balance of approx. $40K. This is from several years past. In the recent years, we have spent all that we have raised in the same year. Is there any reason that we CAN"T carry this balance "cushion" for our "times in need".
# Craig Bystrynski from PTO Today 2008-09-22 15:27
Hi Kim -- It's perfectly OK to carry over a balance of any size. Larger nonprofits like, say, the American Cancer Society, do it all the time, as do groups that are in the midst of a large fundraising project (building a playground, for example). How much is too much is for you to decide. -- Craig
# Yvette Anderson-Carter 2008-11-20 23:32
Hello I am also having a problem with my school as far as donations. I have never had a problem before with having to get fundraisers approved or anything but recently our community has been hit with alot of bankruptcies and foreclosures and I have had parents contacting me for food and also asking if I could help provide the children with clothing because they do not have coats. So me being the giving person that I am sprung into action and I started e-mailing companies and requesting donations. I had a local church that gave me coats and the principle told them they had to present it to the board. since when> my by-laws statd that if the amount was over 5,000 it had to be approved by the board. I don't know why these people are trying to stop us from helping the children I thought that was the whole purpose of P.T.O
# Deb Mullaly 2008-11-22 15:48
I just wanted to know do all PTO meetings need to be held on school property? Our principal said all meetings must be held at our school and no were else. This issue came up because the PTO members were having trouble with scheduling a meeting date and time. We all work and it is hard for us to get together on one given day. So we asked the principal about "house meetings" using one of our other public schools, which is open at night to us or meeting at our school on a Saturday. She said no to all ideas. Any comments or help you can give us? Any thing we can show her that may change her mind? She is making it very hard for us to meet and get things done.
Thank you
Deb Mullaly
Everett, MA
Webster School
# Jo 2009-01-23 19:47
Our PTO president seems to think it is her responsibility and that of the board to get involved in hiring of new teachers, deciding how to allocate tuition, etc. I have read through our bi-laws and basically, it looks to me that the purpose of our PTO is to support our children's education, teachers and admin by planning activities/events and raising funds to support them. In no way does it state we are to get involved with the politics of the school. What is the purpose of a PTO in general?
# Brooke F 2009-01-28 21:39
I am the president of our local PTO, and we are dealing with some issues regarding our rights as a PTO. Do rights change when the school is a Private Christian School? If we do not have our own 501(c)3 status and are using the Church/School for that, does that give them the right to seize our funds to balance their budget? Thanks for your help!
# angela skipper 2009-02-20 03:42
Our pto is having some problems w/principal trying to run the pto. As a new member of the pto I have heard several things about by-laws. According to past presidents our by-laws are being kept from us by the princpal. So none of our members know what the by-laws are or where to get them. My question is do we write them ourselves or is there somewhere to get them. Please help our pto president is a really great person I would appreciate any info on where to get by-laws. THANKS
# Debbie 2009-02-27 15:32
I want to know if the fund raising money should leave the school and be counted at someone home and they are the only people from PTO that is there. They take the kids name and addresses from the school and the money. What do you think abou that.
# Kristi 2009-03-27 03:23
I have several questions. I called to get a copy of our bylaws and the principle said he has never even seen any bylaws for the PTO, and I then called our BOE and they said they were set by each school. My next question is, aren't the officers suppose to be nomianted and elected? We have out going president hand picking new officers.
# Lisa 2009-04-08 03:13
I 'm PTO president.I make my decisions on part of the school and as a parent. The past board members never made it past the first meeting due to our principal. We have paid for awards for the AR reading program at the end of the year for the kids. That the library does not pay for this due to it being an incentive? We don't have much money in our account. The past fundraisers all the money has gone into the school account. Then the teachers come to me & want to know when is PTO going to buy them something?She tells us that she wants the PTO to step up and take charge. We have tried and I get in trouble due to not letting her know when our meetings are and what is going on. I have asked about the by laws and all. She tells me that she doesn't have them. Is there somewhere in Georgia I can get a copy? What all is PTO suppose to pay for? I am so lost on what to do.If someone can help me I would really love you for it.
# David Tabish 2009-05-06 21:08
The Principal in a small private school our son attends recently walked into a PTO meeting and announced he was going to rename and appoint an executive group to rewrite the by-laws of our PTO. I obviously along with other parents immediately rejected his idea. The next night he presented it to the Board of Education, in which I was in attendance, needless to say I again objected, and advised them the PTO DOES NOT report to the board of ed or for that matter the principal. In the boards by-laws, it merely states they should oversee the activities of the PTO. Please give me some information, or tell me where to find it so I can try to educate these @#$%%#$$# and convince them PTO is a separate entity and should be handled as such!
Thank you
# lisa 2009-05-09 16:26
Our principal runs the PTO at our school for the last two years there has been no published records of what the money is being spent on for two years there has been thousands of dollars missing from the general funds on our campus and now we are concerned about our PTO money. We don't know if what the money is spent on and we don't know the Bi-laws or if they have filed the correct taxes or if they even have done the proper audits. Our school account was just audited and found with discrepencies how can we as parents demand our PTO be audited to see what the money is being spent on. We are very concerned. Arthur C. Butler in Elk Grove, CA.
# Wendy Soto 2009-08-19 17:01
I am the president of our PTO this year and we have an issue with he principal and teachers early on. This year our principal told PTO the teachers voted to keep the staff lounge as a "staff only" room. Several of our board members are severly offended by this. They PTO board members say they have receipts showing they purchased appliances used in the room and should have access to that room, or they will take them out. Personally, I am not offended by the policy, but I have to address this issue. Any help on the legalities. The appliances (2 refrigerators, microwave, etc...) were bought with fundraising money, so who owns them?
# Lisa Gundlach 2009-08-24 14:28
Hi Wendy,

We've re-posted your question on the message boards: http://www.ptotoday.com/boards/teachers-principals/22482-debate-w-principal-teachers-over-staff-lounge.html#post150220
where you're likely to get more feedback.

Short answer regarding the appliances: guessing that the PTO didn't put them in so your members could use them; you put them in for the teachers. The school is likely responsible for maintaining them. And you probably didn't put them in thinking "Maybe we'll take them back some day." So probably best to accept the fact that they now belong to the school, whether or not there was a formal agreement.
Since you want a positive working relationship with the principal, this really isn't a road you should go down. It will only make things (much) worse.

BTW, have heard from other schools that the teachers-only rule for the staff room isn't uncommon -- teachers sometimes discuss confidential information about students.
# Glynda 2009-12-03 11:38
PTO's are to be run by parent volunteers. Teachers and administrators are not allowed to run them. If you are a part of a PTO where this is occuring, I suggest that your PTO have a constitution re-write once a year. Constitution and bylaws can be ammended if need be. Treasurer books need to be audited once a year. The PTO board and general membership vote on all funds requests. Administrators can review them but they do not have the final say. PTO's should promote participation from all parents weather they are members or not. I hate to hear that some PTO's exclude kids if the parents are not members. Sounds like a click and no one likes that. All parents should be invited to attend meetings however, only members should be allowed to vote. These are a few things in our schools constitution. Good luck everyone!!
# Jennifer 2011-01-10 17:19
How can I find out if our PTO is an independent PTO and is there a number to call to talk with someone about other issues our PTO is facing?
# KMW 2011-04-22 15:25
Do we need the School Board's permission to incorporate the PTO in Oklahoma?
# Craig Bystrynski 2011-04-22 20:30
KMW -- You don't need the school board's permission to incorporate. Anyway, it's a smart step and I certainly hope no school board would object to it.
# PtoPres4614 2012-04-19 16:55
I've been pto president for 2yrs. I've been dealing with a controlling principal that always has to have last word in all fundraising, meetings, and everything in between. How can i approach the principal with introducing the by-laws? I know for sure we don't have by-laws, i know that our principal is mis-using our money that is being brought in from fundraisers.How do I deal with this mess, when I've have no control???? please help!!!!!
# Christina Nguyen 2012-05-18 13:57
In Feb at our general members meeting, our members Motioned and approved for us to apply for our own EIN, incorporate as a tax exempt non profit and complete Form 1023 in Feb 2012. This was prompted by info we received by our school district. We revised our bylaws and wrote articles of organization. Our members motioned and approved those in May 2012. The articles have been approved by the state and I was just told that I "had to wait" before I complete Form 1023 to become a 501(c)(3) because the school district said they don't know if they want us to be allowed to now. Since the bylaws and articles are done and it is in the minutes that the motions were made and approved, don't I as President now have a legal obligation to ensure it happens by upholding the motions?
# Rose Hamilton 2012-05-18 18:19
Hi cnguyen6,
Did the school district provide any reason why it didn't want your group to proceed? Under ordinary circumstances, the district shouldn't stop you from getting 501c(3) status. You are an independent group, you've already put in lots of work. It would make sense to move forward unless the school district can produce some very compelling reason why your group should put its plans on hold. It's curious -- you would think the district would encourage this move because it's such a smart thing to do.
# Elizabeth White 2012-09-10 18:54
According to this our school district is overstepping it's bounds all the time.

Our district requires an bi-annual form for fundraising and a separate form for each fundraiser by itself. These must be approved by the Assistent Superintendent and the Principal otherwise fundraising is not permitted. Period.

Also the district requires the audit and much much more.

What recourse can our PTO have if we refuse to follow these guidelines? Our principal is a perfectionist and a control freak/micro manager. It's bad enough the school district is that way too but we are so frustrated the Board is tempted to disband.

Our school district has a 280+ parent organization manual for PTOs, etc. to follow.
# Craig Bystrynski 2012-09-10 21:59
Wow, Texasebeth, I just looked at that document you linked to. I think it's meant to be a helpful reference, and there is some good information in there, but the length and the language push it firmly into the category of scary and intimidating.

My suggestion is to figure out, along with the principal, the things that really matter. From a quick look at this document, I'd say the district really wants groups to professionalize (for lack of a better term) their handling of money. That's a reasonable request, since there are dozens -- maybe hundreds -- of cases of theft from PTOs, PTAs, and other volunteer groups every year.

If you can get your bookkeeping in order, institute some strong financial controls, and show a willingness to coordinate your fundraisers, that would meet the main concerns we've heard from most school districts. You might also contact other groups around the district -- I'm sure they're feeling the same thing you are. Good luck!
# Bill 2012-10-24 01:23
I am fighting with other parents because some are saying it is ok to have the kids pay for what they don"t sell in a high school volleyball fundraiser . Can this be done ?
Help please...............Thank you
# Pam Nestor 2013-03-28 15:25
We have student that are in a HOSA competition in Tn. This summer... In order to raise money for the expenses, a parent donated a hand gun to sell chances on.. The chances does not include the schools name only says the money will be donated to the HOSA students... Our school board says we cannot do this... It is illegal, and the students cannot except the money from this sell.. Is this possible?
# Michelle Glanville 2013-04-26 03:37
I am secretary of our school pto. This past year has been a real night mare. The school principal has been sitting on pto correspondance, approving and then denying event plans to the point that she has implimented a policy that monies cannot leave the school except with the treasurer. We had a fundraiser and she left $3000 in cadh in a cabinet in the kitchen at school thst most of the parish has access to. Today I found out that our treasurer ordered more checks 3 months ago, they came in and the principal will not release the checks to the treasurer. She is not on the account. We are at a loss as to what to do. Any help would be appreciated. Michelle glanville, Toledo, OH
# Rockne 2013-04-26 17:08
Hi Michelle -

Sounds like you are at a Catholic school? The question of "who's rules?" certainly get more clear at a private school, where the Principal is typically more empowered and schools have a greater ability to do as they please.
That doesn't mean at all that your principal is doing the right thing here, but it does mean that you need to proceed on merits and process, more than on any kind of "you can't do this!" platform. Have folks discussed this with the Principal? What are his or her concerns? What does he or she want to have happen? Can you set up an appointment for a calm conversation with no accusations? I think that's your next step.
# stressedptovp 2013-07-26 08:20
Wow. According to this our principal is definitely overstepping. She has just mandated that all PTO purchases be approved by her and not just equipment or items for the schools use. She also mandated that she approve items teachers or members are requesting prior to them being brought to the members for a vote. She says we can only buy from district approved vendors. The schools office manager will submit bid requests for us. She says she has final say in how our PTO's money is spent. We are in Arizona is this even legal. I have tried searching the internet for information and can't find anything. Can she do this? Does anyone know where I can find more information on this? We are incorporated as far as I know. We have our own tax id number, bank account, bylaws, and board. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
# frustrated volunteer 2013-08-13 18:05
A year and a half ago, our Parent Teacher Group went through all the process to become a 501(1)c. We have, naturally, by-laws, the state cerification letter, the IRS non-profit approval...but our principle just yesterday shut us down because she , and she actually said this on the phone to me, she "...doesn't like these ladies. They will not give her what she needs." So, because she doesn't like that the PTG wouldn't write her checks over the summer for items not approved by the members to purchase, she told us we couldn't have meetings. This morning the district offices call supporting the principles decision. ? I don't...where do they...are they serious? UGH! Where do we go from here? Nothing outside the by-laws was done by the vp or pres, they simply wouldn't write checks for what the prinicple wanted. (Which is, incidently, why the group was made a legal corporation.) Oh, and the principle cancelled the fundraiser that is supposed to start next week leaving the PTG stuck with the bill.
# John M 2013-08-16 05:34
Our high school's principal has stated unequivocally that students may not participate in our independent PTO fundraisers, specifically car washes and bake sales off campus even though these events are not during school hours. Our parents believe the school has no right to stop participating and supervising parents from allowing their children to participate in baking cookies, washing cars, or just being at the car wash with the parents. It seems unlawful for a school to forbid a parent from involving the child if the student really wants to wash cars. Is the school overstepping its legal authority to forbid family participation in fundraisers?
# PTO Mom 2013-09-21 15:39
hi everyone,
recently in our Presidential Council meeting (11 schools represented by their PTO/PTA Presidents) we were shocked when an item was brought up that wasn't on the agenda. The Superintendant of the district asked one of the Presidents to ask if we would pool fundraising money to the sum of $200,000 to help with implementing Google Chrome in the elementary and middle schools. It wasn't on the agenda and there was no paperwork and the discussion was vague. To say this was sneaky by the district is an understatement. Should PTOs be allowed to fundraise for something a district should provide? We are all furious! Help--we need some guidance. We are in Illinois where our state is completely messed up which doesn't help anything!
# Fiana 2013-10-20 06:55
Our Charter school fundraiser and also the PTO board auditor, spent a few thousand dollars which wasn't approved on a small fundraising event and refused to present any receipt on his spending? And he has no problem getting the money even that wasn't approved because he has the board treasurer on his side.

Can a fundraiser be a PTO's auditor or treasurer at the same time?

Please help.
# Craig Bystrynski 2013-10-21 16:05
This is definitely troubling. It's important for a PTO to be transparent in its finances -- anyone in the position of auditor should know that. Several thousand dollars is a lot of money not to have a paper trail for. There are several issues, but one of them is that if people feel you're not being careful with money, you'll have a much harder time raising funds.

Also, the treasurer should certainly not be writing checks for thousands of dollars that haven't been approved by the board or at least by the president. It's important to make sure, in no uncertain terms, that she understands that. Even if she's just trying to help, it's not her prerogative to make that kind of decision. Maybe you should, as one measure, start requiring two signatures on every check.
# Jason 2013-10-29 02:18
Hello, We are a school photo company and were told by the school district that we could solicit last spring and would be allowed on the bid list this fall. We had around 10 schools wanting to sign with us. We are not a small company and have business in three states. To make a long story short the district kept putting us off and finally we had to tell the schools we were still not on the bid list. Two schools pulled out but the others where the PTO controlled photos said they could ignore the district. We checked in further and got the same response for the head of the PTO in our state. We decided to go ahead and do the school photos at the schools run by the PTO. However, today we got an angry email from the District telling us we are not allowed back in the schools. We are confused. Who is correct here? The PTO or the School District? The PTO here doesn't seem to care for the district. Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks
# Jennifer Reinoehl 2014-12-11 00:16
We have 1 annual fundraiser - a winter dance. In fact, the PTO ONLY runs this dance at this point and donates the excess funds to the school. The dance was held in a church, but it was too pricey for our budget. We found a half price venue, but the admin. said we had to have it at the church or school. We are chose the school.
We are paying the D.J.s, but the school admin. now says we must play New York New York (we are located in Indiana) and Donna Summer's Last Dance at the dance. This is not the only thing they have told us we had to do.
Our bylaws state that we operate under our bylaws and a district non-profit organization-but the bylaws are old. I cannot find anyone who has even heard about this organization, nor have I been given a copy of its bylaws. We fill out the IRS form specifically for our PTO each year for the fed. and state governments.
Is the admin. acting legally? Can they tell a non-profit what to do outside of school hours?
# Alicia121 2015-09-10 12:05
I was on the Board of our schools PTSO last year, and at the end of the year during our last meeting our Principal requested that the PTSO consider and vote to approve funds for a communication system the school was in desperate need for. Our board discussed, voted and approved for $3,000.00 to be given to the school to purchase this communication tool for the term of a 3 year contract. Since then a new PTSO Board has been elected and the Principal has decided to go a different, more expensive, less functioning, communication tool from our local school board. This is the same communication tool he Principal was against and why our Principal was rallying a vote to purchase a new communication tool.

As a past PTSO Board, what can we do about the funds not being used to purchase what our Board voted and Approved? Can we call for another vote? Is the principal required to refund the money as it is not being used as approved?

Any guidance on this is much appreciated.
# Louise55 2016-05-14 16:11
Our principal hand picked our board members for next year, he/she decided who would be president and vice president. The president has served over their term limit set by the bylaws and is her employee. Our bylaws state a term limit and there is to be a vote to decide board members. What power do I have to stop this? What can I do?
# Shannon VanDenBosch 2016-09-27 22:27
Hello. I am wanting to share at the independent PTO group's meeting at my daughter's elementary school the recent legal issues over the transgender s use ofbathroom, locker, shower rooms . The PTO board has blocked me and forbids me to state facts to inform parents because of this being a controversial issue and is out of step with their by-laws. So, I am wanting to know who set the by-laws, are they enforceable to censor speech that makes all parents aware of what is going on and has a direct impact on our school as we have transgender kids in our school.i thought the PTO was inclusive and set up to , among other things, inform parents of all info regarding the well fare of their children. As a parent, am I missing something here? The board changes every two years and are we to be subject to the thinking of each new set of board members? Thank you for help.
# Kimberly 2018-02-01 21:11
quick questions, our elementary school principal just sent us a letter stating the school is dissolving our PTO organization and she will not approve any of the fundraiser that we submitted to her.
What steps should we take next - I know legally she can not dissolve our PTO organization.
What do we tell our members?

# Cheryl PTO Today 2018-02-02 17:11
Hi Kimberly,

Have you tried talking with the principal to see why they feel the need to dissolve the PTO? You do need to go and look at your bylaws to see if there is anything there about dissolving the group, who can dissolve it? You need to see how the group has been set up, as an independent group? Good luck!
# Sara56 2019-05-01 16:29

Great article! Question from the school side, what legal rights does the school have if funding isn't happening from PTC? And since we are in agreement with PTC to not do any funding on our own over a specific amount our hands are tied and they are not doing anything. Thank you
# Lani @ PTO Today 2019-05-03 01:14
Hi, Sara56 -- It sounds like you're saying the school and the PTC have mutually agreed to cap the fundraising on the school's part at a certain level. The best case scenario is for the school and the parent group to work as partners. But at base, the parent group exists to support the school—while the PTC isn't legally required to provide funding to the school, neither is the school required to submit to the PTC in terms of what it can and can't do on its own. It sounds like the school administrators and the PTC leaders need to come together to figure out how to move forward in a way that shows more mutual support for the school's needs as well as the current and future abilities of the PTC.

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