March 2008

A fundraising assembly featuring dogs doing tricks spurred months of debate in a southern California community about who should be allowed to attend the events.

Elizabeth Swenke, whose child attends Ronald Reagan Elementary in Wildomar, spoke up when she learned that only students who participated in a PTA fundraiser could attend the event. She argued that some students would be left out because their parents could not afford to buy products or could not accompany their children to sell items to neighbors.

Swenke asked the principal and the PTA to either include all students or hold the event after school hours; however, the assembly was held one morning during school only for students who sold at least one item in the fundraiser.

“I don’t see what you are gaining by excluding kids,” Swenke told the North County Times newspaper. “Teaching 5-year-olds that life isn’t fair, is that what PTA fundraising is all about?”

Several Reagan Elementary PTA members countered that the assemblies are needed to motivate students to raise money for the school and that all students benefit from the funds raised.

Swenke later brought the issue to the attention of Lake Elsinore Unified School District officials. The board decided in January to leave the current policy in place, allowing principals and PTA leaders at each school to make the determination.