April 2009

Sen. Curtis Bramble (R-Provo) wrote the bill in response to a constituent who said she was shut out of volunteer opportunities when she left a PTA to form a separate, independent PTO at the school. About 70 percent of parent groups in Utah are affiliated with the National PTA, according to Doug March, Bramble’s intern, who worked with constituents on the bill. Some parents, however, oppose the national organization’s platforms or don’t want to pay membership dues.

The first version of the bill required any parent group to waive membership dues upon request. That drew opposition from PTAs, which collect national and state dues. Once the bill was revised to say only that preferential treatment cannot be given to one type of parent group, it passed the Senate easily and was expected to be well-received in the House, March says. As PTO Today went to press, however, the Utah PTA withdrew its support, igniting a heated debate.

Initial publicity about Bramble’s bill brought out supporters, such as a parent who said her daughter couldn’t run for student office because the family hadn’t paid PTA dues. Another constituent said she tried to convert her school’s PTA to a PTO because parents couldn’t afford dues, but the principal told her the school would only allow a PTA.