National PTA sanctions Georgia PTA for failing to justify removal of president. Can this organization be saved?

Ousted Georgia PTA President Lisa-Marie Haygood

The Georgia PTA leadership continues to imperil the reputation and viability of the organization after a January coup that dismayed rank and file members. Now, the National PTA is citing the state chapter for noncompliance and has placed it on probation. You can read the full sanction letter below.

But here is a key passage in the March 29 letter from National PTA President Laura Bay to Georgia PTA:

National PTA is deeply concerned about fractured relationships that are driving units and individuals away from Georgia PTA when engagement is often the best way to address internal state PTA problems. We worry about the long-term consequences of such fractures on the lives of Georgia’s children and the well-being of Georgia’s families.

You can find my original blogs on this controversy here and here.

To recap this drama, here is how my colleague Ty Tagami described the melodrama in a February news story:

The board of directors, which is supposed to represent the interests of parents, teachers and children, staged what vanquished former members describe as a hostile takeover with racial overtones. In recent months, a controlling faction of the board voted off several peers, black and white. There are questions about an election where more ballots were counted than there were delegates voting, plus claims that clever alterations to policies and procedures allowed the faction to hijack the organization.

It peaked last month when the board removed its president, a white woman who led the PTA to a prominent political victory that earned a national award for advocacy. Other board members have been removed or resigned in protest and hope the publicity from the tempest will cause members to stop paying dues and trigger a reckoning.

“It is just a huge mess, ” said Barbara Pitts, an Atlantan who resigned from the board recently, frustrated by meetings that got bogged down by bickering about who got to go on expenses-paid trips. Pitts, who is black, said the disputes were often racially tinged and that the board is controlled by black members. “All of it was petty, ” she said. “I think that whole board needs to be cleaned out.”

I agree with Pitts: The board ought to resign now for the sake of the PTA.

I understand more local units are considering abandoning PTA and becoming a non-affiliated PTO. Those local units remain concerned about the removal of popular president Lisa-Marie Haygood in late January and the refusal of the current leadership to adequately explain its reasons.

The PTA board appears more concerned with retaining its power than preserving the organization. Newly installed President Tyler Barr maintained the evidence would bear out the actions by a controlling faction in engineering the removal of Haygood and others.

In a statement earlier, Barr said:  “The action of removing the former Georgia PTA President, Lisa-Marie Haygood, on Saturday, January 28, 2017, was in accordance with the Georgia PTA’s Board of Directors’ interpretation of its Bylaws and Policies and Procedures.”

Well, the National PTA seems to disagree, and Georgia PTA seems either unable or unwilling to defend its process. I contacted National PTA about the probation and spokeswoman Heidi May Wilson said, “National PTA does not provide public statements about its internal PTA matters. ”

In his response to my request for comment, Barr said in a statement, “I am very pleased to address that Georgia PTA has willfully responded to the requirements and will continue to faithfully cooperate with National PTA and our membership to ensure that Georgia PTA meets and exceed any non-compliance issues and further protect our association’s rights; reputation and membership; and fully support our children in Georgia.”

National PTA spokeswoman Heidi May Wilson told me,  “National PTA does not provide public statements about its internal PTA matters. ”

At this rate, all that will be left of Georgia PTA will be a compromised board and a depleted membership.

Here is a letter sent this week to the Georgia PTA by the National PTA.

Georgia PTA Board of Directors, Tyler Barr, President

Dear Georgia PTA:

Thank you for your response of March 17, 2017. Georgia PTA remains out of compliance with the National PTA Standards of Affiliation (SOA) policy as first noted in our noncompliance letter of February 17 2017, and again noted in our letter of March 2, 2017.

As stated in the February 17, 2017 letter, Georgia PTA’s noncompliance status is deemed “knowingly and willfully” as per the Standards of Affiliation Policy Procedures Regarding State Constituent Associations in NonCompliance with the SOA, Section 1B. Georgia PTA has not appropriately responded to National PTA’s requests. This letter is official notification that Georgia PTA has now entered the Probation Phase of noncompliance.

Per the SOA Policy, “a state constituent association shall remain on probation until all requirements have been met or for a period not to exceed six months” or September 29, 2017. This Probation Phase is related to the following unresolved portions of the SOA Policy (in bold italics):

Standard 5: “The state constituent association shall adopt, revise, and adhere to bylaws that reflect correctly the current rules and practices of this association.”

  • Georgia PTA has failed document its adherence to the Georgia PTA Bylaws as outlined in our previous letter specifically to Georgia PTA Bylaws, Article X, Section 6, “If a member of the Board of Directors shall at any time cease to meet the qualifications or fulfill the duties of the position as specified in these bylaws and the Georgia PTA Policies and Procedures, that person may be removed from the board by a two-thirds (2/3) vote of the Board of Directors.”

“The National PTA Board of Directors reserves the right to revoke a state constituent association’s charter, with notice…, if the state constituent association violates the ethics, policies, or principles of PTA or in any way jeopardizes the tax exempt status or endangers the good name/good will of National PTA.”

  • National PTA has ongoing concerns about damage being done to the PTA brand by the Georgia PTA Board of Directors as noted in our letter of March 2, 2017. National PTA continues to receive requests for national intervention from Georgia PTA members who do not feel Georgia PTA is conducting business transparently or in the spirit of member approved bylaws.

What does it mean to be in probation? Per the SOA Policy, the Probation Phase “includes forfeiture of the state constituent association’s rights to the following” (and this loss of benefits is immediate):

  1. “Funding to attend National PTA meetings and events as may be specified in National PTA Bylaws and/or budget.
  2. Eligibility to receive grants or program participation funds from National PTA.
  3. Eligibility to participate in National PTA awards and other programs, including the PTA Reflections program at the national level.
  4. Eligibility to receive National PTA representation at the state constituent association’s annual meeting/convention or other events.
  5. Eligibility to receive benefits of sponsored gifts or rewards and to participate in sponsor/member benefit programs.
  6. Eligibility to receive benefits from any partner-related incentive type of program.” Specifically, over the next few months, Georgia PTA’s representative will lose the benefit of paid travel to the NCAAC meeting and to National PTA Convention. Also, Georgia PTA will not be eligible to receive a National Representative to Georgia PTA’s Convention.

In accordance with the SOA policy, Georgia PTA is assigned a support team to assist Georgia PTA in returning to SOA-compliant status. Wayne Bauman, National PTA Secretary-Treasurer, will chair the support team and he will soon reach out to the Georgia PTA President, Tyler Barr. Other members of the support team, all members of the National PTA Board of Directors, are Donald Dunn, Tina Hartman, and Roxanne Rhinehart, as well as Mary No Neil, National Service Representative. We ask that you communicate directly with the team’s chair and rapidly take action. The support team is charged with collaborating with Georgia PTA to create a plan addressing the issues and concerns noted above and to hold Georgia PTA accountable for achieving milestones and outcomes according the plan and timeline.

Georgia PTA must cooperate with the committee which is charged with:

  • Ensuring the restoration of Shanda Ross to her seat on the Board of Directors without retaliation against Ms. Ross.
  • Reviewing Georgia PTA board-approved minutes—in their entirety—and ensuring those minutes substantiate a 2/3 vote of the Georgia PTA Board of Directors to remove Nicole Ponziani, Lisa-Marie Haygood, and Marina Staples.
  • Ensuring Georgia PTA engages a qualified parliamentarian and follows his/her counsel on the hierarchy of governing documents and overall governance of the association;
  • Analyzing Georgia PTA’s current Policies and Procedure and making recommendations for changes that 1) ensure P&P aligns with bylaws and Georgia nonprofit law, and protects members’ rights, 2) leads to open and transparent governance and, 3) ensures members have a reasonable expectation that the leaders they elect are allowed to serve their full terms.
  • Acquiring a copy of the revised Georgia P&P that demonstrates the hierarchy of governing document.
  • Reviewing Georgia PTA’s last five years of financial reports and ensuring Georgia PTA addresses members’ concerns about the Georgia PTA board’s financial oversight and financial accountability.

What happens if Georgia PTA does not comply with probationary requirements?

Per the SOA Policy: the Probation Phase “Failure to comply with probation requirements by the end of the Probation Phase may result in restructuring of the Congress and/or the revocation of the state constituent association’s charter.”

National PTA is deeply concerned about fractured relationships that are driving units and individuals away from Georgia PTA when engagement is often the best way to address internal state PTA problems. We worry about the long-term consequences of such fractures on the lives of Georgia’s children and the well-being of Georgia’s families. It is our goal to work with you to restore Georgia PTA to good standing and support Georgia PTA in its efforts to heal. Please respond to the support team’s offers of help and take advantage of the resources offered to you. Thank you for your attention to this matter, and thank you for all you do for PTA.

Sincerely, Laura Bay

President, National PTA

Reader Comments 0

65 comments
Carlos_Castillo
Carlos_Castillo

Which counties do the current majority members come from?

PiedmontPanther
PiedmontPanther

Some of the same flock at the state level honed their skills in the Atlanta Council of PTAs as well as the 10th District (I can't remember for certain if this is the correct district for Atlanta and North & South Fulton PTAs). Some of these folks could care less about the Vision and Mission of the PTA which is a laudable one.

These antics were particularly shocking with the Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal and accreditation issues loaming large over the Atlanta Public Schools. I was among a concerned group of black and white parents who tried to kick start the Atlanta Council into positive action. These wily ones shut us down using their positions, not really following process. False voting cards worked there so I guess they'll use them until someone stops this force.

Sad really. The children, teachers and families of Georgia are the real losers. I've never been able to figure our why they're behaving this way and what they get our of it. Guess they were bullied in middle school.

THANKS NATIONAL PTA FOR STEPPING IN!! It may be too late though.

E Pluribus Unum
E Pluribus Unum

Why do you think many of the states with

collective bargaining are educationally

ranked ahead of states with restrictive

laws concerning unions ? Massachusetts

is ranked number one on most lists based

upon test scores, but they have unions and

collective bargaining. Has the educational

ranking of Georgia significantly improved

since the enactment  of restrictions on 

collective bargaining for teachers in Georgia?

Starik
Starik

@E Pluribus Unum How many Southern states have restrictions on unions? It's a Southern thing. Quality public education has never been a priority. I don't see cause and effect, just parallel attitudes.

E Pluribus Unum
E Pluribus Unum

@Starik @E Pluribus Unum


The reason I mentioned unions and 

collective bargaining has more to

do with your response that you

don't see cause and effect. If you

don't see cause and effect with 

student test scores, why are unions

continually being brought up as the

scapegoat for problems in education

when the data shows that the absence

of vibrant unions in several states has 

not produced significant gains in test

scores?

Tanya Smith
Tanya Smith

NPTA response is not enough! No one will have faith in this association with the same players at the table. They all need to resign. The county were I reside has completely collapsed from a District and Council level. Local units who need support don't get emails or phones calls returned. No calendar or vision. SAD! This association is great and has been great for many communities, however, when many put personal agendas before the organization, failure occurs. I am sick and tired of the foolishness.

Amy Clark Carter
Amy Clark Carter

We had District Officer elections on Saturday. No one stepped up to serve. No one wants to be a part of the drama that comes from serving with this current board.

Astropig
Astropig

(Munches popcorn while watching the corrupt Georgia PTA melt down)

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

Ga. law prohibiting public teachers from forming a union:


2010 Georgia Code
TITLE 20 - EDUCATION
CHAPTER 2 - ELEMENTARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION
ARTICLE 17 - TEACHERS AND OTHER SCHOOL PERSONNEL
PART 11 - COMPLAINTS POLICY
§ 20-2-989.10 - Collective bargaining not permitted or fostered O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.10 (2010)
20-2-989.10. Collective bargaining not permitted or fostered

Teri Henke Hansen
Teri Henke Hansen

I would hope that the current board would see the writing on the wall, take the high road and resign; however, since at least one of them--she who shall not be named--is a megalomaniac, I doubt resignation is a word in her vocabulary...

Amy Clark Carter
Amy Clark Carter

Google her name. Do a little digging. You will be beyond angry that she was ever elected to serve on a local unit let alone rise up through the ranks at the state level. They should all have to have criminal background checks.

Teri Henke Hansen
Teri Henke Hansen

I served WITH her years ago--that is why I know exactly what kind of person she is. I could tell you stories...

Lisa Skiver
Lisa Skiver

This is so disheartening... Our local board has been following this story quietly (one of our Co presidents has requested answers, minutes, budgets, etc). One reason we had decided to stay a part of PTA I'm the coming year is because we believe in PTA's core values and for the first time we had several kids enter and move up in the reflections program. One student is going to be judged at the national level!! Now I see that because of this debacle, failure to comply, whatever this is has suspended our eligibility in the national reflections program...I am heartbroken!! I realize the reflections is only one of the many other things will be losing but this hits too close to home and I have a feeling this topic will be coming up again at our next meeting.

Jenn Casteel Patronilha
Jenn Casteel Patronilha

Have any local PTAs decided to not make anymore payments to them? Our local school is concerned that the money sent monthly is in no way helping our children. I have asked repeatedly for their budget as well as the minutes and have yet to receive a response.

Katrina Bishop
Katrina Bishop

I hear discussion of some considering dissolving the PTA and going PTO instead....

Jenn Casteel Patronilha
Jenn Casteel Patronilha

My concern is that according to the by laws the GA PTA can seize our bank account and potentially take what is left. Considering how they have conducted business, it would not surprise me. However, media coverage would probably deter that.

April Micheele Morrell
April Micheele Morrell

I have heard of schools getting around that by spending all of the money prior to dissolving. They are buying what the school needs and starting fresh in the fall under a PTO.

Brenna Woodbury Williams
Brenna Woodbury Williams

Yes! PTA retaliation is a real threat. I'm so glad I'm not involved with PTA this year. Two year term was enough for me to see through the smoke screen.

Amy Clark Carter
Amy Clark Carter

All monies raised were raised as a PTA. GA PTA can absolutely seize all the money in your bank account. You guys would need to spend all the money in your account and then notify GA PTA that you were dropping your Charter.

Elizabeth Reinhardt Stansbury
Elizabeth Reinhardt Stansbury

In order for any PTA to stay in good standing is to have 25 members. Makes more sense to stay PTA and send 25 membership fees. Perhaps we do fundraising drives instead of membership campaigns where money stays at the school and allow our families to choose to pay the $5 to become members. $125 per local unit won't go very far.

Another comment
Another comment

The irony of the situation is the PTA dues and the hard lobby are coming from the White woman Lisa and her fellow Moms.

I have refused to participate in white flight because I like living close in and my jobs have required 24/7 calls. As the great Rene Glover experiment of handing out section 8 vouchers drastically changed the make up of the schools at the perimeter. My children's classes went from primarily white Middle to upper middle class with PTA moms. Who gladly volunteered and paid the $5 PTA . The Minority majority schools where the same 4-5 of us were the only ones volunteering and the minority parents wouldn't even cough up the $5 PTA fee.

Fulton Schools at the northern Perimeter started a couple of years ago to make the $10 PTA fee mandatory with the Athletics fee share for your child to play sports. Well next year I am crossing through this and refusing to pay!

L_D
L_D

@Another comment Then your PTA is violating their bylaws - PTA dues cannot be mandatory.  You should reach out to your Council-level PTA to see if they can help resolve the situation.

Another comment
Another comment

I am glad they have refused to pay for the free trips to the national convention. That seemed to be the motivating factor by the "Black factor" per the reports of the previous articles. They were interested in an all expense Las Vegas trip.

PattyYohn
PattyYohn

@Another comment Unfortunately, National PTA has just refused to pay for the President and President Elect like they typically do. Georgia PTA can still send who ever they like. The last we heard this corrupt board still has $20,000 allocated to send themselves to Las Vegas. 


BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Perhaps the first question to be answered is, "Should this organisation be saved?"

PattyYohn
PattyYohn

@BurroughstonBroch Yes,if they can remove the rogue group and the past president (before Haygood) who is the puppeteer. Then I think the association has a good shot at getting back to the mission.  But I would say No, if they are allowed to stay in power. 

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

There are no teachers unions in Ga. for it's against the law, so I don't see what they have to do with the Ga. PTA. Maureen had a Jan. 31, 2017 blog that specified the charges against the GA PTA Board that seemed to boil down to misuse of PTA funds for the personal benefit of the Board members and nepotism on the Board. The probationary requirements listed above for the GA PTA Board sound quite reasonable....mainly to follow parliamentary procedure in reviewing this case, it seems.

Alt AJC
Alt AJC

@OriginalProf 

You know perfectly well that the NEA and the AFT, the two largest teachers' unions, have dues-paying members in Georgia.

GAE and GFT are their Georgia incarnations.

And you know that both unions use that dues money plus out-of-state funds to influence our Georgia elections and lobby our legislators. Just as they do in 49 other states.

There's more to unionism then workplace militancy.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Originalprof is still trying to sell the same lie! Josef Goebbels would be pleased.

Astropig
Astropig

@Alt AJC @BurroughstonBroch


Interesting side note-


Up here in Tennessee, the BIG DOG news/talk station in Nashville always refers to the TEA as a "teachers union" and it drives the schoolmarms bananas.They are livid about it.


I guess even they are embarrassed (like Prof seems to be) to be identified with crooked unions.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Alt AJC @OriginalProf 

GAE and GFT are "Auxiliary organizations," which means that they are separate from the NEA and AFT.  Georgia is a "right-to-work" state, no unions allowed. GAE and GFT may lobby legislators and provide legal services to members--as any organization may--but they can't collectively bargain, which is the definition of unions.

newsphile
newsphile

@Astropig  Hm...a TN resident who is overly interested in GA's politics and all things in education...

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Alt AJC @BurroughstonBroch 

Why not go to the source?  Google "NEA" and check their website, which lists their Auxiliary Organizations in the "right-to-work" states where unions are illegal.

Starik
Starik

@OriginalProf @Alt AJC I'd say you can have a union without collective bargaining. I don't believe there's an official definition.

Starik
Starik

@Alt AJC @Starik She doesn't bother me. The only one I ignore completely is Andy. He's quite mad.

Alt AJC
Alt AJC

@Starik 

Ignore OriginalProf. She's a union-denier of many years standing here on the blog. Her worry is that new teachers will wise up to the fibs of GAE recruiters like her.

And thus stop unknowingly bankrolling the Democrats.

L_D
L_D

The entire GA PTA Board should resign to allow new leadership to come in and restore this organization.