PTA vs. Booster Clubs?

PTA’s?  Booster clubs?  Which are better?  Is that an unnecessarily divisive question?Can both work together harmoniously?  What’s your experience?  What’s your dream for the future?  (We’re rabid Type A mothers not afraid of five and ten year plans.)

Discuss amongst yourselves. . .

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39 thoughts on “PTA vs. Booster Clubs?

  1. Just the quick differentiation: PTA is the national organization, which requires local and national dues. Money raised at a school doesn’t *all* stay with the school. In SoCal, there are dental clinics to sponsor, fancy banquets to attend, and the like. Consider it a franchise.

    Booster Clubs/PTOs are the generic version, without the “brand name” and the restrictions that come with the national governing body. However, they still must obide by national, state, and local law.

    My daughter’s school is currently a PTA, but because of parent involvement and commitment, we’re looking to go PTO next year, rather than spend the money on the banquets and memberships to the local area.

    I’ve even heard of schools that have *both*.

  2. Angel –

    That’s about as succinct and accurate a description of the differences that I’ve ever seen, and I do this for a living.

    I’ve also seen schools with both, but I don’t really see the upside in that. Growing community and involvement is challenginge enough when the parents are together in one group. More challenging (and certainly less community-like) when there are two.

    Tim Sullivan, founder
    http://www.ptotoday.com

  3. Thanks Tim.

    I’m not sure why schools would have both, either, but to each their own. Maybe some people just really want to wear the Grand Poobah hat. 🙂

  4. I am new to all this, so can someone please explain to me the benefits of a PTO? Is the attraction of a PTO the fact that the money raised only goes to the particular school, rather than submitting a portion of the fundraising to the national organization?

    Am I wrong to assume that as a national or state collective (through the PTA), the lobbying powers of parents are greater than individual local organizations, esp in this current trend of budget cuts for education?

    Thank you, Kai-Ti

  5. We are in our second school with both a PTA and Booster/Spirit Club. The purported reason for having both at our last school was because there are legal restrictions as to what a PTA can spend its money on. The Spirit Club at that school had been created for one purpose years ago — to purchase HVAC units so our (poor, sweating) kids could have A/C on 100+ degree days. Then the organization continued. Basically, they had less strings attached to the money. (It is still a bit of a mystery to me where this is spelled out…) And yes, the two organizations did trip on each other a bit — they were trying to work together more when I was leaving and the Booster Club backed off a lot, did only minimal things and let the PTA do most. The fact is that “PTA” means something to parents whereas nobody knows what a particular Spirit or Booster Club does or where that money goes (even if you tell them 800 times a year!).

    Our current school has a school-wide PTA and a Magnet-only Booster Club. The Booster Club provides extras just for kids in the magnet.

  6. What I find interesting as we make our way from a PTA to a PTO, is that LAUSD has a very specific bulletin (BUL-1633) that states schools can only have ONE official fund-raising body on campus. But the more people I talk to, either schools look the other way, or they choose not to follow it, because I hear about more and more schools with both.

    Since our principal is aware of the bulletin and wants to follow legal procedure, we’re looking into dismantling our PTA and creating a PTO.

    For us, it’s issues like what funds can or can not go through a PTA. Since LAUSD will not allow student-raised funds for class trips to be funneled through the school account, and PTA forbids this practice as well, that’s a consideration. In addition, all funds in PTA raised during a year are supposed to be spent by the end of the year. Unfortunately for most of us, the biggest expenses (PE, Art, and Computer teacher salaries) must be paid at the beginning of the year and there’d be no way to pay those without carrying over a balance.

    Finally PTA is a lobbying organization for children and there are costs associated with that. First part of the membership dollars raised are sent to state and national organizations. Secondly, PTA does get involved in political issues that individual schools and parents may or may not wish to be a part of. With a PTO, the parents chose the destination of the funds raised, and while they may choose to donate to a dental clinic, they may also choose to donate to other worthwhile charities that more closely match the needs of their community.

  7. This is a very interesting conversation. As a recent past President of a PTA I think you you need to know PTA’s do not require parents to be a member to be involved. Membership is only if you choose to vote at the meetings or would like to be a board member. $3.75 of each membership per year goes up through the Council, District, State and National PTA. This pays for the lobby persons fighting for balanced budgets, Music and Art in schools, better nutrition and much much more. The remainder of the money stays at your school for whatever you vote to put it toward. As far as the dental clinics,or fancy banquets this is up to each individual unit to attend or donate. It is up to the unit board to decide these matters. At my school if we went to the banquet board members paid out of our pockets because we did not want to budget that money to leave the school.

  8. I can’t believe the misinformation about PTAs on this board and many other places for that matter.

    PTA is a nationally recognized 501c3 for the benefit of the school your child attends and all children in public schools nationwide.
    So when you are under the PTA umbrella, they provide all the necessary paperwork. Our payment out for insurance is $200.00 a year. Without the national organization, such as a booster club, the payment for insurance would be more like $3000.00 per year. That’s money our school could use to run programs.

    PTA is not limited to fundraise on campus. Our insurance covers on and off campus activities.

    Parent members vote to allocate funds in a way that benefits the greatest number of students school-wide.

    Referring to the first comment on this board, sadly the nonprofit So Cal Dental Clinics are the only PTA run low-income dental clinics remaining in the country. I think PTA also had low income Optometrists as well at one point. A grant was received last year to keep these running as long as we can.

    As far as the “fancy banquets” are concerned It is a great way to meet and bond with experienced VOLUNTEER leaders in the education community.

    It takes a village!!!

  9. Dear Theresa,

    I just want to say, for the record, that I am a big fan of the PTA, and in fact (are you ready?) believe the PTA’s incredible accomplishments have have been completely neglected/ignored in modern discussions of the women’s movement. See how I threw down (oh yah!) on the PTA’s behalf in the November 2009 Atlantic.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200811/women-rule-the-world

    That said, I am still waiting for my thank you letter for all my praise of the PTA (including in LA Times op eds), or even calls back from California PTA heads re: the rally a bunch of us threw at the Sacramento Capitol last June. But I still will continue to support the PTA as a loyal minion, both with my dollars and as PTA secretary at my school, because it’s an incredibly valuable force for the good of California children. Then again, I do believe there can be variances in “style” between Old Guard and New Guard (say, between centralized committees vs. individualistic expression, between Cold War and Gen X). Some like banquets, some do not; some enjoy a PTA president’s pin, some would prefer a PTA president’s GIN. (I credit our own fab PTA president Moira Quirk with that one.)
    I think the essence of this village we’re ALL living in–which is essentially about great public schools for all kids–and yes, by and large, it’s a lot of us multi-tasking moms–is our universe of volunteerism is a BIG tent that allows for a multitude of different volunteer styles, all good, all groovy.

    I happen to enjoy a PTA pin, although I like to hang it on my chainlink rock ‘n’ roll dog collar, because I’m a 46 year-old aging Gen X’er with a little bit of arrested development. My LAUSD mom friend Erika Schickel and I very much enjoyed a recent trip to Burning Man–in fact, because so much weight was lost, Erika may lead a special “Weight Watchers” Camp at Burning Man in 2009! Where we’ll wear our PTA pins! I’m clearly digressing.
    The point is, it’s all good, and I do believe the PTA is particularly great re: Reflections, legislative action, etc. Go, PTA. I am indeed a fan.

    Raggedly re-reading my comment with a bit of shame, but deciding to own it,
    Sandra

  10. Sandra,
    We all have our lives outside of PTA . Your 46, I’m 40. This summer you went to Burning Man, I sang in a Punk Band in San Francisco and went to a Solar energy conference. You lost weight on Weight watchers, I stuffed my face with burritos in the Mission. To each her own, PTA doesn’t judge you for what you do outside. We are all individuals.A Weight Watchers, PTA or PTO pin does not define who you are what you drink or how you run your own unit meetings. I was the most Laid back free form President our meetings were very free and open. Our new President has run a 501c3 and is much more by the book, I respect that too.

    The entire point of PTA is to work together as a team and build a community in your own unit PTA. To get whatever you vote in done for your school. Rewrite your bylaws if your not happy with them and vote it in. The guidelines are only in place to help you follow corp. and 501 c3 codes of the State of CA., you will have to do that anyway. Why would you want to do it all on your own. My vision for our little school is to want build a strong leadership foundation with the new and old parents in the school. I work closely with the new team when they have questions. We all need to foster each other to do the best we can for all the children. Ultimately it’s not about you, me, thank you cards or award banquets.

    I just want to know what you really think the difference will be going forward with PTO?

    It’s about respecting each other, working together and keeping an open mind.

    I respect your opinion,
    Theresa

    By the way every PTA event I’ve been to has a bar and believe me even the lifers use it. The PIN and GIN go hand and hand.

  11. Dear Theresa,

    How exciting! I’ve literally never seen a bar at a PTA event! (Is there a PTA pin in the shape of a martini glass–perhaps a martini whose olive is poked through with a tiny American flag?)

    In the case of our particular school, we just switched over from PTO to PTA within the last two years in order to be legal, to get insurance, all those good things. So we are indeed PTA. The comedy and cocktails unit of the PTA. Unofficial of course. (I know there are insurance issues.)

    So far it appears to be working for us. . . Others?

    – Sandra

  12. To clarify- I’m talking about the big event dinners at the convention, membership or award Dinners or the events the District and State PTA throws. That is where you really get to know people see different schools and bond. Not all meetings, however after your meeting is adjourned you can do anything you want off campus.

  13. Sandra, Sandra, Sandra….. as I heave a sigh, and nothing else, had you come to the trainings at the 31st District PTA offices all of this would have been clarified for you.

    1. Not one dime, farthing, or dollar of any money that is raised by your PTA leaves your PTA to go elsewhere. Theresa already clarified the membership money for you, but that is all.

    2. If you had ever come to one of our membership or award dinners you might understand. You are NOT required to come but it is amazing how excited other schools are to be there and receive an award for all their hard work. These dinners are not money makers for us at the district level. Costs are kept as low as possible in order to accomodate every one who would like to attend. Since these events are not held on a public school campus alcohol can and is served by the establishments. We could have had a martini together had you been at our last one.

    3. The Dental clinics in the San Fernando Valley, which were in operation for over 50 years, are now closed. They were the only Dental Clinics in the entire country that offered these services through the generosity of PTA members, units, and outside donors. PTA’s were not forced to tithe to keep the doors open, and since the donations had fallen so dramtically over the years and with the retirement of our Dentist we were forced to close the doors. We still pay for glasses and help to susidize low cost eye exams and glasses to all the students in the LAUSD, we do not care if their parents belong to PTA or not. In the same manner that all of our volunteer lobyists lobby on behalf of ALL children, not just those at PTA schools.

    4. Limitations on spending the money that is raised is only through your mission statement as a legitimate 501 (c) (3) tax deductible chairatable organization. The IRS frowns upon spending money on things that have nothing to do with the foundation of your organization. PTA “RULES” are nothing more than guidelines to keep you legal within the strict definitions of what the IRS tells you can do or not do. PTA only asks that you follow those “ruiles” to keep yourself legal. Cheating on your taxes is never a good thing, do it on your own but not with other people’s money.

    5. No where does any “rule” say that you have to spend all the money in your account by the end of the year, that is just another one of those urban myths about PTA. It would be dumb to do such a thing and then have no money for the following year to start off with or to have for programs that you have on a yearly basis. You are asked to spend your money as you promised the membership and on the things that they voted to spend it on. Again, come to my trainings, they are free ya, know.

    6. I know of no rule that says that you cannot funnel money for class trips through a PTA account.

    7. Most of the booster clubs that I have seen formed were due to mis-information about PTA. All they had to do was make the fund-raising arm of the existing PTA stronger and there was nothing they couldn’t do within the legal boundaries of being a 501 (c) (3) organization.

    Sandra, you are such a funny and insightful person, but I was surprised at the amount of mis-information that you have about PTA especially since you are an officer at your local school. Perhaps we need to sit and have a martooni or three and ‘splain it all to you.

  14. Dear Franny,

    While for some reason I find myself less than eager at this very moment to rush to those PTA martoonis, perhaps because I seem mysteriously to be taking all the hits on behalf of the PTA, even though it was OTHERS (not me) who were arguing on behalf of PTO’s. . . (I simply went off into a perhaps ill-advised musing about Burning Man, where I in fact did NOT take any drugs, although perhaps SHOULD have. . . )

    Oh hell, I love to be flagellated in public about my possible misunderstanding/misrepresentation of PTA’s 501 (c) (3) or not status! It’s what I love about the PTA! The flagellation! The technicalities! The guilt! The complex variegation of the blue and black ink, in my secretarial minutes!

    But no. . . I kid because I love! Really, I do.

    In fact, Franny, maybe we can start a feature ON THIS VERY WEBSITE called “Ask a PTA Lady” where confused parents can post their PTA questions (similar to the red light/green light/etc. FAQ’s in the EXTREMELY HELPFUL online insurance section of the PTA Tool Kit) (do you like that? my sly mention of the PTA Tool Kit?). Would you answer those, Franny, if people posted them? (Even if you are flagellating me now, I really did enjoy talking to you that time on the phone.)

    Love. . . Peace. . . PTA!!!

    Sandra

  15. Just for the record, Angel, our Principal very much follows the Bulletin you mention (she read it to us at a Booster Club meeting!). The rule at our school to comply is that PTA is allowed to have on-campus fundraisers… Booster Club is not. Our Booster Club has one “direct appeal” request for donations sent home to parents and that’s it for the year. No bake sales, no raffles, nothing else on campus… that is all PTA territory. We respect that and participate in their events. I recently worked a booth at the PTA Halloween Festival, for example. There is room enough under the tent for all of us and we do get along!

    Just didn’t want to leave you with the impression we were directly competing on campus against the PTA — not the case at all.

  16. Sandra,

    Flagellation can be fun…isn’t that a song in “HAIR” dare as I proundly display my age????? Guilt?? Just when the Jewish community thought they had a corner on the market in guilt…my Catholic upbringing and now….PTA!!! Gawd, I love this!!!! Everyone should slyly list their TOOLKIT as it is so full of …. information.

    Ask away…I just hope that I have not had too many martoonis to respond coherently.

    And I too loved talking to you on the phone. Scott has always said that we should meet. You are sooooooo funny and definitely an asset to the educational community and all the mom’s who are busy trying to learn how to advocate for their kids. Who knew this was such a full time occupation?

    And Rebekka, I am impressed that your principal even bothered to read much less share that LAUSD bulletin, most don’t.

  17. For the record since there is some confusion, Sandra is tall, thin, and funny. Angel is tall, heavyset, and not as funny (oh, and she’s not a man, but that’s another disclaimer). Sandra’s kids are at a magnet. Mine is not. There should be very little difficulty separating a “Sandrah” comment from an “Angel” comment.

    If you disagree with what I’ve been presented with, so be it. Perhaps talk to the parents at Wilbur as to why they left PTA, since they’re the blue print for our school. And we’ve checked insurance, it’s no where near $3000.

    I don’t begrudge schools that choose to be PTA. It should be a choice.

    Rebekka, that’s what we wondered because Balboa has two as well. We’re a small school, and we just don’t have the manpower for two sets of officers.

  18. Angel,
    It is totally a choice. How much would insurance be? I was going by a friend of mine who has her own 501c3, but she has 1 employee so the insurance may be more. I respect your choice not to be PTA. I was just wondering the reasons for the change? Specifically what restrictions.

    By the way Sandra and Angel you both sound like cool chicks, sorry I was confused. Too many martoonis with my coffee this morning.

  19. For the record, I was told by one of the parents from Wilbur that they wished that they had had the PTA vs Booster conversation with me before they changed. They were given incorrect information but that is okay. As long as they are helping the children.

    The information that you presented was erroneous, not a disagreement, just the facts that’s all. There is a lot of urban myths about PTA out there and I like making sure that when a decision is made it is always based in truth.

    It is a shameM though, to be so competitive for the same group of parents when it is difficult enough as it is, to get people to be involved. The fundraising arm of the PTA is called WAYS & MEANS.

    The $3,000 quote that Theresa gave was a quote for one particular booster and an event they held. This was on top of their regular insurance which is still way more than PTA pays.

    Several PTAs and Boosters have “merged” due to the competition for manpower under the PTA umbrella. PTA provides constant training and resources for all levels of the board for free.

    Angel, you are beautiful and funny. I will do my best to seperate you from Miss Sandrahhhhhhhhh.

  20. It may be a little late, but I second the suggestion for an “Ask a PTA Lady” FAQ. I’m in a different school district (Riverside), so we don’t have your LAUSD bulletin, but I suspect that we do have many similar issues and urban myths to be dispelled.

    For the record, I’m on an elementary school PTA board, and I was in a high school band booster club for years. I support and volunteer(ed) for both and enjoy friendships and admire parents who are committed to either one.

    But the booster club always seemed far more flexible in its funding, while the PTA seemed inexplicably complicated. For example, some volunteers wanted to make a stockpile of school T-shirts available as incentives. A minor display of great attitude, citizenship, or grade improvement, and that kid would have the shirt to wear on Pride Fridays (enabling a low-income kid to get the shirt when generally only the middle-class families buy them). The check to the PTA sat for months while they tried to figure out how this could happen within the rules (second-hand info). Finally we just tore up that check and did it privately. A week later the shirts were available.

    This is the sort of bureaucratic stuff that makes well-intentioned, involved parents get frustrated with the PTA and go around it. Whatever Franny (or another PTA Lady) can do to explain it or debunk urban myths would be VERY helpful!

  21. So I am more confused than ever. I am aware of the bulletin saying that there can only be one or the other, a PTO or a PTA. BUT where is the document/guideline that sontains the definition of each? Is it in the Ed Code?

  22. Sorry to be so late to the party on this question. No need to be confused. There is nothing in the Ed Code describing the differences. The differences between a PTA and a PTO is that the PTA is a national organization that has been around over 112 years advocating for children and raising funds as well for their schools.

    A PTO/booster is not affiliated with anyone other than the school where it is located. If the PTO is properly organized as a 501 (c) (3) tax deductible organization in the eyes of the IRS, than it is subject to the exact same rules and regulations as the PTA about how you may spend your money. A PTA will have the advantage of advanced training and support on a regular basis from their Council or District. We are just a phone call or direct email away.

    The school district rules state that all parent groups must be “separate legal entities from the District (501 (c) (3)…the objectives and purpose of the Approved Parent Group must relate to the health and welfare needs of public school children.”

    In a PTA all expenditures must be approved by the voting body of your group. You cannot just go off and spend the money as you wish or whenever. As far as your t-shirts were concerned, the incentive part is a great idea and there was no reason it should have taken so long other than they had to run it by the membership. That was being fiscally responsible.

    In the Los Angeles Unified School District PTA has a blanket civic permit to meet on the campus. Boosters do not. We have heard from several District around the state now that they ONLY want PTAs because of their sound Fiscal Policies and Procedures and are asking to see the audits from the individual units to make sure that the money is being spent responsibly. If only the school districts were so conscientious.

    There is so much more information that is easily gleamed from the California State PTA website, capta.org, as well as just asking your district leaders.

    Does this help?

    Franny

  23. I’m glad to find this group. I am a president of a middle school booster club. We are in a slump this year with membership and only have about 6-8 people at our monthly meeting. Some of them are teachers and the principal. Only 3 officer positions are currently filled; president, treasurer, and auditor. Our principal is calling for a reorganization and wants to consider different “models” to see what the best way to go is. I don’t know what he has in mind, but I am open to suggestions. The only problem I have is the way he is going about it. He has canceled our meeting for this month, without asking any of the officers, and rescheduled it for the last week in April. When I spoke to him about it, he said he was sorry and that he should have ran it by me first. I told him I would be out of town on that date so we then rescheduled the meeting for the first week in May. Later that day, he sent me an email that stated HE decided to go ahead and have the April meeting, even though I can’t attend.
    While I am grateful for his enthusiasm, I need him to understand that this is not HIS booster club and that he does NOT have the authority to schedule or cancel meetings.
    Any help on this?

  24. Hi Kyle. What do your bylaws say? Do you have a required number for a quorum? Does it state where your meetings must be held?

    You need to keep a working relationship with your principal, but it’s clear he’s overstepping his bounds.

    You can postpone your meeting, and choose when to reschedule it with your board. How do you contact your members? I’d then reach out to the parents in your school and use the current financial situation of the state as a way to encourage parents to have a voice in the issues the school will face next year.

    Finally, you might want to check the forum boards at ptotoday.com because they’ll have folks that deal with issues like this on a regular basis.

    Good luck, and let us know what transpires.

  25. I had a meeting with the principal and discussed my concerns. He was good about it. I told him I knew him well enough to know his good intentions, but that the booster club is an entity separate from the school and that only an officer of the booster club can schedule meetings. He was understanding about it. I decided to have a meeting the week before his “parent meeting”. He pushed back a little for some reason and said he thought it would be better to meet right after his meeting so we would have potentially more people, but I told him the officers felt we needed to meet before that meeting so, that was that. Our bylaws don’t specify a “meeting quorum” only a “voting quorum” of at least 2 officers and 3 members. It doesn’t specify where the meeting are to be held. Our principal is a hard working man with a lot of great ideas. He just wants to make sure we have an active parent group, whether it be a PTO, PTA, booster, or whatever.
    I guess to sum it up; personal, face to face communication solves a lot of potential problems. If I would have tried to deal with this via email, it would have gone down hill fast.

  26. Glad you avoided a calamity, Kyle. Now your focus will be to build your organization up.

    While you’re right that the principal has no control of your goings on, get his feedback on why you are having trouble getting more parental involvement. Sometimes parents with gripes don’t go directly to the source, and he may have some feedback on why parents aren’t attending.

    It’s a given that parental participation from elementary to middle school drops off significantly, but given a middle school is a larger population, you should still be getting a better turnout.

  27. Hadn’t been back to this thread in a while. As Theresa notes re: the PTA, I think there is also a lot of misinformation on the web re: PTOs and how they operate.

    Good example is the $3000 insurance quote above. That is way, way off. These days PTA and PTO insurance costs are nearly the same.

    We have a page of PTO v PTA links here: http://www.ptotoday.com/pto-vs-pta Could be helpful for another perspective.

    My bottom line is: pick one and do great work for kids. The acronym matters far less than the actual work you do at your school. There are ghreat PTAs and struggling PTAs. And there are great PTOs and struggling PTOs.

    Tim Sullivan
    President, PTO Today

  28. So we are thinking of having a wine and cheese type fundraiser in the spring (spring because the cafe that is offering us the space has way more outdoor space then indoor). We are an 80% or so title one school in a very income mixed community with restaurants and business that attract upper middle to high income visitors. I would LOVE advice from any of you out there who has put on such an event: how did it go? Where you able to get non school people involved?- if yes how? Would you do it again? Did you do it via the PTA or the Friends group (we have both a PTA and friends group) or was it the school local leadership (would that fly with LAUSD?) did the stress lead any of the organizers to partake in a little too much wine (or cheese- that would be my weakness).
    Thanks
    Dorit
    Micheltorena mom

  29. Joyce thank you for the revised update.

    Reading this it sounds like an Outreach /fund-raising committee which most PTA’s need people to volunteer for anyway. Why not just save time, money and volunteer power by working within a system that is already in place?

    Fact: Booster Clubs still need all the 501c3 paperwork, bylaws, Board, pay taxes and insurance the volunteers still have to manage. These are businesses not parents getting together to have fun and raise money for the school. The board be it PTA or Booster is still personally financially responsible!! You insurance and the 501c3 laws of the USA will dictate what you can do legally.

    It just does not make sense to me.

    Tim,
    The $3,000 quote that I gave was a quote for one particular booster and an event they held. This was on top of their regular insurance which is still way more than PTA pays.

  30. our aschool has both at PTA and Booster and it works well for us. The Booster goes after outside funds and the PTA goes after parents.

    I beileve its up to the schools to decided what is best for the school.

  31. Hi Dorit –

    Totally agree with your note about each school decising what’s best fit for them, their needs, their particular situation. Plenty of success stories with all models. All depends how you do the work.

    On Theresa’s points, couple of things: 1. It’s not true that 501c3 is required. I think it’s the best way to go, but many, many booster groups operate basically as a committee of the school, which already has nonprofit status. And some schools/districts extend insurance to cover leaders of such groups.

    2. RE: the insurance rates. The difference is typically under $100 total. If there’s a group paying $3000 for any PTO event or package, they’re either running a “parachuting with pitchforks” fundraiser or they got taken by a local agent. It’s really not a fair number to throw around in a discussion like this.

    Tim Sullivan
    Founder, PTO Today

  32. What does a PTA elected officer/parent do if they want to still support their children’s PTA (because obviously an ethical PTA can do many good things for a school) but the current also-elected officers, LAUSD school principal and even the PTA District Officers don’t respond to the elected officer/parent’s complaints about completely unethical, slanderous and outrageous intimidation being sustained by the one officer?

    Letters have been written and phone calls made, only to hear from LA’s 31st District officers that harrassment and intimidation occur regularly at PTA meetings in their District. PTA says it’s a school issue; and the principal says it’s a PTA issue.

    Is there any plan for PTA to be governed by anything stronger than merely Roberts Rules (it is 2010) or is there any plan, with all the criminal acts occuring on school campuses, that background checks will be done on hopeful elected officers so that some of us don’t have to be so afraid and intimidated????

    • Vote em out. Read your bylaws and your PTA Toolkit (online at capta.org). If this is an obvious problem, everyone ought to be well aware of it, and you should marshall a group to rescind this person’s office. Of course, by now you already should have done this (it’s late April). Is this person re-elected for 2010-2011? If so, you must not have anyone else who believes as you do that this person is a threat to the school’s success. There are definitely ways of ‘recalling’ elected officers. There are regulations about how often they may miss meetings, conduct, etc. District should stay out of it, because they really don’t know who’s right or wrong. It’s strictly a school site issue. And your principal or someone he or she has appointed ought to be serving on the Executive Board, and if the behavior is inappropriate, he/she would be aware. My guess is no one is supporting your complaint – or that this is a hidden harrassment?

    • Hi Mary,

      Sorry it took this long to get a response. PTA issues are essentially out of my area of expertise, and more importantly as illuminated in your response, you’re talking about illegal, criminal activity against children and adults. I’m glad Sheila gave you some constructive advice.

      I wish you luck, and agree that you will need to be in direct contact with LAPD.

  33. Sheila,

    Thank you first of all for being brave and writing back. So far no one’s decided to touch this. Absolutely it’s hidden harassment. I have to say I’ve really shifted my perspective on PTA.

    When I talk to my kids’ friends’ parents and realize their family has endured more than mine at the hands of this unsuitable school principal, my story isn’t all that important. Actually, I decided to hire a lawyer. If nothing else, LAPD will know who to talk to first if my body shows up somewhere, god forbid.

    This is by no means over. There needs to be accountability not only in PTA but in LAUSD, but what will really be accomplished remains to be seen. I’m not going to fight to be treated with dignity. I simply won’t support the school’s PTA and I believe in bringing the truth to the surface…

    I didn’t have to go too far….which is VERY sad because this is a school with great teachers but poor leadership. When we started here two years ago now, it was a “Distinguished School” on its way to being a Blue Ribbon.

    I’ve learned that the new Stonehurst Ave elementary principal last year (allegedly from Vena) allegedly even waited 3 or 4 hours — HOURS — before calling the parents of a female student who had been “pants-ed” by two boys last year. The parents filed a report — thankfully. Several of us parents are in the process of obtaining police reports and any other public records we can get since this principal has been on our campus.

    I will tell you, in all honesty, because of how I was treated by fellow PTA officers all “unbeknownst” to the school principal (yet my cell records and saved emails show differently), I won’t touch PTA again nor would I ever arrange for my employer’s I.T. Dept to donate up to 50 desktops for a working computer lab.

    It’s weak — weak — that when PTA is pushing for tax increases in Sacramento that we, as volunteering parents, have to endure harassment by an organization as big and influential as PTA that’s governed merely by RR. The days of Ozzie and Harriet are way over. Okay, even the days of — well, I don’t like to watch much TV but you get my drift.

    The school principal, when I asked for a “hearing” as called for by RR basically scoffed at me in the crowded school lobby office with PTA officers all embedded in there (one officer even frantically texting away sitting in the Vice Principal’s office), LA’s Best staff and the two LAUSD office staff. It was a witnessed meeting, luckily.

    It’s starting to resemble issues with the Catholic Church — ya got a principal of questionable-character, oh well, just move ’em to another school and let them deal with it.

    Even my kids learned firsthand that you don’t sit there and take bullying — on the school campus or in a PTA meeting or even by a publicly-paid school official, paid by my tax dollars — and yours most likely. Bullies have to be stopped or at least have the light of truth shined brightly in their little dark world of control and intimidation. When my site is up and running, perhaps I can post it on here. Time will tell.

    Thank you again for being brave enough to inquire. I do wish your PTA well and hope that people treat each other kindly. If we don’t, we’re not going to have people willing to help, and schools — public or private — need parents to support them.

  34. re: the PTA vs. PTO questions. We did decide to become a PTA.

    The main argument for it IMO was that parents assumed a ‘booster club’ was for sports and didn’t feel the need to be involved if their kid didn’t do sports. Another good reason was that we were paying over $900 for insurance. Now we pay a couple hundred.

    The main argument against PTA was that there are a few more rules that could prevent us from doing what we wanted. (which is a good thing as well as a hinderence)

    About a year has passed and the main thing that I have seen in hind sight is that we HAVE been able to do pretty much what we wanted to do without any PTA prevention. On the flip side (and I don’t think this necessarily has anything to do with PTA/PTO) we haven’t done any fundraisers at all this year. We have gotten vehicle donations and eScrip, both of which were set up by the booster club, so the money is coming in a bit, but no real fundraiser activities. We meet for one hour 1x per month, no more, so once the time is up, we adjourn. Again, that is more of a board thing and wouldn’t change much if we were still a booster club. We’ll see what happens in year two. I was the main person against the PTA thing (not a fan of big bureaucracies), but so far, I don’t regret the decision.

  35. Hi Kyle –

    Glad the decision is working out for you. I hear you on the perception of PTA v booster club. I do think that the name PTO does about the same thing as PTA in that discussion (as compared to “booster club”, which I agree does sound like sports or a club support group).

    One clarification. These days PTOs can also get insurance for just about the same rate as PTAs (varies by state). So that difference is no longer all that relevant.

    Good luck in your work.

    Tim Sullivan

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