Georgia PTA ousts president who led Opportunity School District fight. Is group imploding?

Ousted Georgia PTA President Lisa-Marie Haygood

In a vote Saturday spurring a statewide backlash, the board of directors of the Georgia PTA ousted its popular and highly visible president Lisa-Marie Haygood and board member Lisa Martin, who represented District 10, which encompasses all of Fulton County, including Fulton County Schools and Atlanta Public Schools.

When I reached out to Haygood, she said: “I was removed from the position of state president by vote of the board. I cannot speak about that action, due to board confidentiality.”

The removal of Haygood was even more confounding after her success in defeating the Opportunity School District.

It doesn’t appear her role in fighting the OSD contributed to the board vote; Georgia PTA opposed the state takeover plan put forth by Gov. Nathan Deal.  In fact, a board member said some colleagues initially doubted Haygood, a conservative from Cherokee County, could effectively challenge the OSD, but she emerged a fiery and often-quoted adversary to the governor.

So, why did the board force Haygood out?

After talking all morning to insiders, it appears Haygood never won the support of the immediate past president Rita Erves, who remains on the board.  For reasons unclear — and Erves has not responded to my request for a comment — Erves was at odds with Haygood.

Haygood also brought a reformer’s zeal to Georgia PTA, adding a fraud specialist who referred nine cases for criminal prosecution. The fraud expert has also been let go.

“This has been brewing for a long time,” said John Palmer, a teacher adviser to the board and spokesman for the Georgia teacher group TRAGIC, Teachers Rally Against Georgia Insurance Changes.

Haygood tried to limit perks, including the number of people attending the National PTA conference on the state group’s tab.

“With Lisa-Marie, the Georgia PTA was in the best position it has been in years to help influence education debate in the state and put parents back in the conversation because parents have been out of it for some time. Frankly, that’s gone,” said Palmer, who resigned his non-voting board role to protest Haygood’s dismissal. “Most parents won’t even know this is going on as some of those local units will still continue to be very active in education debates surely coming up, but their state voice has now been cut off at the knees.”

I understand political disagreements but this Georgia PTA coup risks inflicting lasting damage to the organization. As one commenter on AJC Get Schooled Facebook — where there is active discussion underway of Haygood’s removal — noted, “If this decision is not reversed, I suspect many local units will pull out of Georgia PTA and form other parent teacher organizations.”

“We are saddened by the recent events at the state board. Lisa-Marie Haygood, our state president, and Lisa Martin, our district director, have worked tirelessly for the children of Georgia,” said Vickie Riccardo and John Martin, co-presidents North Fulton Council of PTAs. “Our council, which supports nearly 50 local PTA units in North Fulton, has lost its representation on the state board. We are concerned about the leadership vacuum that remains at the state board. We are monitoring this situation, and we will reach to all our local units when we know more.”

I have reached out to the Erves and the entire board. Here is what I sent them:

  1. Why was Haygood removed?
  2.  How does the Georgia PTA plan to respond to the growing outcry over her removal?
  3. Why did you remove the fraud investigator Haygood put in place given the referral of nine cases of fraud for criminal action? Wasn’t that a relevant and necessary position given those findings?
  4. Do you have concerns about a loss of public confidence in Georgia PTA?
  5.  In light of the pending battles over public education at the state and federal levels, why did the Georgia PTA choose to create dissension at this time? Haygood’s tenure was up this summer. What was pressing enough to warrant action now?
  6. Haygood played a key role in leading the fight against the OSD. Did her prominent role factor in her removal?
  7. Should the National PTA intervene, as many Georgia PTA members are urging?
  8. Several PTA leaders said this would push PTAs to move to become PTOs. Does that concern you?

I only heard back from one board member Sunday. I received this email from the new Georgia PTA president Tyler L. Barr.

However, I did hear from former board members and chapter leaders, all of whom cited issues with trust,  cronyism, bullying and leadership, so Barr has his work cut out for him. ‘

Here is what Barr sent me:

As president-elect, I would like to introduce myself to you on behalf of the board of directors. In respect and fairness to the association, the removal of the president was a mutual decision. Furthermore,  this is a sensitive and confidential matter.  We regret that we are not able to comment further but I am happy to assist you as we continue today as a strong and leading advocate for every child in Georgia.

 

 

 

Reader Comments 0

67 comments
Tara Williams-Hunter
Tara Williams-Hunter

Those of you automatically believing the reports about GPTA that Maureen Downey is writing are appearing to be more and more guilty of being adults who thrive on drama. You only want GPTA run by a set group of people. We see you!

Astropig
Astropig

" We regret that we are not able to comment further"...


See comment below.Our powerful,influential member of the media is reduced to just replaying the side of the story that GAPTA wants played. 

Noreen Gallagher Wynne
Noreen Gallagher Wynne

How is this a private matter if our taxes are paying for Public schools.? Hope the truth comes out.

GarthHeutel
GarthHeutel

I could be wrong but I don't think any tax dollars go to the PTA (other than via its tax-exempt status like any other nonprofit).

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

Haywood was arrogant and self-promoting. She was truly annoying, but willing to inject the PTA's position into any occasion, no matter how inappropriate.


I must confess surprise, as the teacher-union shills at GA PTA had themselves a true zealot, though more concerned for teachers than students.

PappyHappy
PappyHappy

Sounds like Ms Haygood was being too successful at her task of serving as president.  She probably DID NOT use a common practice of 'GO ALONG TO GET ALONG'.


Letting the 'fraud expert' go at the same time suggests that there is some serious hanky pinky going on with the books!


AJC, do you have any 'INVESTIGATIVE REPORTERS' left??  

Reasonable24
Reasonable24

@PappyHappy I would be interested to see how they can justify paying to send over 20 people to Las Vegas for the National PTA convention. I would think that at most 4 people could represent them.

AJCkrtk
AJCkrtk

@Reasonable24 @PappyHappy When did 20 people go?  Was that before Ms. Haygood? I wonder if previous boards were worried that the fraud expert would find financial impropriety. The previous president is the one that pushed for Haygood's ouster.  Hhhmmm...


Starik
Starik

Cherokee County? Likely a tea party nut.

AJCkrtk
AJCkrtk

@Starik Actually, I think she is a conservative Republican -- that may be part of the problem for the previous board.


Under-Educated White Guy
Under-Educated White Guy

No wonder Georgia will never be ranked higher than 40th in the Best Educated Index.  There are only 10 states out of 50 who are worse at educating their children than Georgia. 10 STATES OUT OF 50!  What's really shameful is that it's been this way for decades.  


Talk about not being able to see the forest for the trees.

CSpinks
CSpinks

To what extent is the ability of The Public to learn what's transpiring in one of our state's leading education-related organizations and in our numerous local school boards handicapped by "board confidentiality" agreements?

CSpinks
CSpinks

Some pertinent questions, Maureen.

Astropig
Astropig

@CSpinks


I think that the above list does contain pertinent questions.Just don't look for any official answers.The strategy here will be to stiff-arm Maureen and anyone else looking into this and let the passage of time move this story to page 23,lower left hand column.In other words,the public's short attention span will allow this to blow over and we'll either not get the true story or it will take a leak from inside to shine some light on this incident.Again, the ousted prez is the linchpin here.She can clam up or get her side out and let the chips fall where they may.Staying silent risks letting the PTA start a campaign behind the scenes to discredit her and muddy the waters enough that she looks as bad as they do.

Amy Bennett Shea
Amy Bennett Shea

Time to go a different way. Just when GA PTA starts to be a worthwhile organization it falls prey to power grabs and politics.

Susan Mobley Fondueberry
Susan Mobley Fondueberry

Lisa Marie was bringing the focus back to the mission of the once powerful grass roots association. Local members let your voices be heard. Ask for an investigation.

Adam Belanger
Adam Belanger

Lisa Marie has been a shining star in what can be a dark, foggy path. If she is wrong for fighting corruption, standing up for children and against racism, then I am wrong too! #IAmLisaMarie

Astropig
Astropig

Good.This is an organization that I hope tears itself apart and splits into warring camps.They have shown that they are nothing more than a sock puppet for teachers unions.I'm sure that the financial shenanigans are related to the corruption inherent with those groups.Obviously,there is something that they don't want revealed about their legerdemain and this woman had the goods on them.Now that she's out of a job,she doesn't have anything to lose by letting their skeletons fall out of the closet.I hope she sings like a canary.

newsphile
newsphile

@Astropig How does one who lives out-of-state have so much time and energy (and sometimes anger) for GA public schools and politics?  You should visit one of our successful public schools and see what an effective PTA actually does before posting. I'm betting there are big bucks coming your way if you can help the demise of public education along a bit.  Shame on you.

Astropig
Astropig

@newsphile @Astropig


What the PTA does is oust their leader when that leader finds impropriety.That's what it does.


She served her purpose for them,and now they're treating her like used Kleenex.Ditto Maureen.Look for a thick wall of "no comment" from the same people that kept her on speed-dial a few months ago.

Chuck-U Schumer
Chuck-U Schumer

The National PTA is widely viewed as a puppet of the teachers' unions, endorsing their shameful arguments against accountability and school choice. 

With this pro-union newspaper column and union-bankrolled TRAGIC taking up the case of an ousted PTA operative who worked to defeat the Governor's reform plan ... that view is only confirmed.


Kel Ann
Kel Ann

Um...there are no unions here. And parents of inner city kids already have choice options, and they always have the option to dig in to help the schools get better.

Kel Ann
Kel Ann

Shameful arguments against accountability and choice? What's shameful about asking for equitable, sensible accountability and school choice devoid of people profiting off of children? To me, you are the shameful one for such baseless allegations.

EdJohnson
EdJohnson

@Kel Ann "Choice" folk here all too often show they lack the "help the schools get better" neurons.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

The teacher's unions (GAE, PAGE, MACE, etc.) are traditional unions without the power of collective bargaining and striking. The rank and file members have no sayso about which politicians their unions support. The union's primary interest is collecting dues.

BRV
BRV

So the AMA and every other professional orgamization representing physicians, or those representing lawyers etc. are unions apparently. Any organization that can't collectively bargain isn't a union; it's a professional association. This isn't a difficult concept to understand except for those with an ideological axe to grind.

Chuck-U Schumer
Chuck-U Schumer

@BRV 

The National Education Association files for, and receives, union tax status from the IRS. And it actively uses its tax-exempt revenues to thwart education reform in all 50 states.

And elect Democrats.

All GAE members are automatically dues-paying members of the NEA.

Chuck-U Schumer
Chuck-U Schumer

@Kel Ann 

The unions spent $5 million defeating the Opportunity School District, thus leaving parents, especially in our inner cities, trapped with failing schools.

That's the real shame.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@Kel Ann Wrong on both assertions. You believe that or just believe the audience here is ignorant.

BRV
BRV

You are a moron eduk8tr. PAGE which has no ties to the NEA or AFT is the largest education professional association in Georgia by a factor of ten. Let me repeat, you are the single most brain dead, insipid dope on this site.

dsw2contributor
dsw2contributor

A dumb question:  what was the outcome of the "referral of nine cases of fraud for criminal action"?  Were charges actually filed, or did the prosecutor(s) decide the fraud was so minor that it wasn't worth  their time?

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Like the teachers' unons, the PTAs are not primarily focused on the students.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

I only taught as a substitute in high school many years ago. I am not and never have been in a union. I am not and never have been a PTA board member.

Kel Ann
Kel Ann

To sum up: you have no experience or knowledge about these these. So...shush.

Kel Ann
Kel Ann

Are you a teacher? In a union? Or a PTA board member?

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

@ Kel Ann

You sound like a teacher and I know the drill - teacher may not be right but teacher is never wrong. Let me deliver you from your ignorance.

My parents were in the PTA when I was in school, I was in the PTA when my children were in school. My wife is a retired public school teacher and two step-daughters are active public school teachers. I am active in my grandchildren's education. And my wife and I pay school taxes. And I once saved a company from a union organizing attempt.

So my reply to your shush is derisive laughter and to tell you to pound sand.

Victoria Henderson Mynatt
Victoria Henderson Mynatt

I certainly hope you get a response to your questions from the GA PTA. I can't imagine a reason for this action that isn't politically motivated.

Lynn Morgan McIntyre
Lynn Morgan McIntyre

GAPTA taken over by rogue faction. Demand answers, copies of board minutes and a Forensic Audit. RiseUp local units, now!

Kel Ann
Kel Ann

What's the story on the previous pres? Why would she have issues w the current one?

Blynne Roberts
Blynne Roberts

Governor Deal's hands are all over this!! He is angry because the Voters rejected this "school takeover" bill, and he's now exacting his wrath!! He's trying to come in through the backdoor by moving the resistance!! Keep Your Eyes Open and Be Vigilant!! #TheVotersSpoke #BackToTheBallotBox

Kelley Salter Hynds
Kelley Salter Hynds

Maggie Lang Jones wow! Sad. Parents need to fight what's happened to our schools and stop letting it be controlled by people that have no Education background.

Annissa Burns Arthur Katzman
Annissa Burns Arthur Katzman

This is not an unprecedented event in the recent history of Georgia PTA. . This behavior has been ongoing for years. The removal of membership elected people with no apparent cause or explanation is not a new thing to Georgia PTA. While I appreciate what you're saying about Gov. Deal, I don't think that's what's in play here.

Carol Ranft
Carol Ranft

A republican governor has no role in this at all. It is all the past president. Jealous of Lisa-Marie. Rita Erves was a joke of a president. All she did was spend the association's money.

Lynn Morgan McIntyre
Lynn Morgan McIntyre

Governor Deal is not involved in this debacle. There was an ongoing investigation into misconduct by former leadership, fiscal irregularities, violations of the open records act, breaches of ByLaws and other irregularities going back more than 4 years. A Rogue faction have taken over this wonderful organization and it isn't to help the kids, it is for their own agenda to manipulate the funds that local dues provide them. They have violated the trust of 249,000+ members across the state.

Maggie Lang Jones
Maggie Lang Jones

Oh wow! I always enjoyed listening to her\U0001f62e.....Kelley Salter Hynds!

Amy Clark Carter
Amy Clark Carter

As a local unit President, I'm disgusted by the events that happened during last night's meeting. I've never been a fan of Rita Erves and during the few occasions that I was around her, found her to be fake and disingenuous.