Alarmed National PTA to Georgia PTA: We can’t allow you to further tarnish our brand

One of the promo pitches to get parents to join the Georgia PTA. That may be a harder sell in the wake of the group’s internal battling. (Georgia PTA)

After a power play that ousted a popular president and caused local units to consider abandoning the Georgia PTA, the state leadership now seems bent on self-destruction.

Already on probation, the group has run afoul of National PTA again by its clumsy manipulation of the election process. In a strong letter sent today, National PTA warns the state attorney general may be brought in if Georgia PTA does not clean up its act.

This drama began last year and continues to escalate.

As my AJC colleague Ty Tagami wrote in February:

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.”

There appears to be little of consequence at stake for those involved, other than ego and control over a budget of about $800,000 (2015 IRS document) that pays for things such as leadership training for local PTAs, conferences, expense accounts for hotel stays, meals and travel to conventions. Some of the budget comes from the $1.50 in dues from each Georgia PTA member. The officers are all volunteers and receive no pay. But the rift could threaten the political might of an organization that helped defeat a November education referendum backed by top state political leaders.

Given that critical news story and several others and  knowing the eyes of National PTA and wary members statewide were upon them, you’d assume the Georgia PTA officers would straighten up and do everything by the book. Not these folks. They continue to flout rules, create new ones to suit their agenda and ignore legitimate questions from local PTAs about spending and elections.

Does anyone believe this organization can be saved?

Here is the new missive to the Georgia PTA from National PTA.

July 27, 2017

Georgia PTA Board of Directors

Tyler Barr, President

Dear Georgia PTA:

National PTA is deeply concerned about the Georgia PTA nomination and election process which will culminate with elections for Georgia PTA President-Elect, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer on August 4, 2017 during the Georgia PTA CLT. National PTA strongly recommends that the Georgia PTA Board of Directors does all within its power to allow all qualified individuals who submitted an intent to run from the floor to do so.

While Bylaws are under the control of Georgia PTA members, Policy and Procedures are under the control of the board and are, as you know, open to revision and interpretation by the board. Now is the time for flexibility and transparency. Georgia PTA members communicated the following to National PTA, calling into question Georgia PTA’s processes, intent, transparency and credibility. This causes National PTA great concern

  1. National PTA is concerned about nominations process used by Georgia PTA and notes that members and school officials are confused by these messages which were not complete nor transparent.

a. Per Georgia PTA Bylaws dated June 24, 2016, Article VIII, Section 8e, “additional nominations may be made from the floor as provided by Appendix J: Policy on Elections.” Policy J is not attached to the Bylaws, nor is the Appendix available on the Georgia PTA website. It is not a public document and not accessible by your members or those intending to run from the floor. It was not provided to potential candidates, nor was it directly quoted in nomination materials.

When a Georgia PTA member, Shantelle Grace, requested a copy of Appendix J on July 15, the response from Sandra Perrino, Georgia PTA Bylaws Chair, was “Appendix J, Policy on Election has never been an attachment to the Georgia PTA Bylaws. This document is listed in our Georgia PTA Policy and Procedures, which is a board only document that local units and councils do not have a copy.

b. ”The Call for Letters of Intent to Run from the Floor for 2017, dated May 31, 2017, posted on the Georgia PTA website and contained instructions, but did not appear to directly quote Appendix J.

c. The call for letters of intent was not easy to find and required clicking through the CLT information.

d. National PTA is in receipt of one form, 2017-2019 Officer Nomination Form, which says, “Send the completed Nomination Form, a copy of your resume and signed 2016-2017 PTA Membership card to Becky Lawhon, Georgia PTA Nominating Committee Chair no later than June 20, 2017 in a sealed envelope to Georgia Nominating Committee, Personal & Confidential, and Attention: Becky Lawhon PO Box 4694 Columbus, Georgia 31914. NO EXCEPTIONS for missing information, late submissions or NOT using a sealed envelope.” There is no mention of certified mail.

2. National PTA notes concerns from Georgia PTA members and school officials who question the ethics of having the Nominating Committee Chair — the person responsible for providing information about how to run from the floor, the person receiving the Intent to Run forms, and the person telling individuals that that they are disqualified from running from the floor — as a slated nominee for office for an officer position. Per the minutes of the January, 2017, Georgia PTA Board of Directors meeting, her husband is a member of the Election Committee. Members have noted a conflict of interest and the nepotism inherent in disqualifying challengers and running elections in this manner

3. National PTA notes that the date of the CLT was moved which caused confusion about when information about running from the floor would be released.

4. National PTA notes the continued concern from members about who can vote at an annual meeting that takes place within days of the start of the school year when the 2017-18 membership campaigns have only just begun.

5. National PTA notes concerns raised by Georgia PTA members and by school officials that a candidate slated as Treasurer is suspected of mishandling funds at the district level and whose investigation has now been turned over to authorities.

Georgia PTA’s reputation and credibility have been under attack for many months and, as a consequence, so has National PTA’s. The latest round of questions concerning the election process and the disqualification of candidates will do nothing to restore trust and credibility.

Indeed, National PTA fears the elections will further damage PTA’s name and be repudiated by Georgia PTA members. Any appearance of stifling a Georgia PTA member’s ability to run for officer positions or any perception of a closed or rigged process will further harm PTA at all levels. This is the time for flexibility, transparency, and member-responsiveness by the Georgia PTA board. National PTA strongly encourages Georgia PTA to identify ways to open the election process.

If Georgia PTA disregards our strong recommendation, National PTA expects disarray and parliamentary challenges at your CLT, legal ramifications, and the involvement of the Georgia Attorney General.

The National PTA Board of Directors is closely watching Georgia PTA’s actions and the harm being done to the PTA brand. Lack of action by the Georgia PTA board to open the election process and alleviate members’ concerns will be considered an affront to National PTA’s members who reside in Georgia, a demonstrable lack of care by the Georgia PTA for the PTA brand and a willful disregard for the reputation of PTA at all levels. The National PTA Board of Directors cannot allow the brand to be further tarnished and will take appropriate action.

With the expectation of challenges to this election, National PTA requests that Georgia PTA retain in a sealed envelope all ballots, tally sheets, tellers’ reports, credential reports, nomination forms and other election and nomination materials. National PTA will share this letter with members and school district officials who have expressed their concerns about the election.

Sincerely, James L. Accomando President, National PTA

Cc: Wayne Bauman, National PTA Support Team Donald Dunn, National PTA Support Team Roxanne Rhinehart, National PTA Support Team Tina Hartman, National PTA Support Team Nathan Monell, Executive Director, National PTA

 

 

Reader Comments 0

41 comments
Moreofthesame
Moreofthesame

I do not plan to join PTA this year.  I will donate to the school's foundation and provide any donations that go directly to the school.

Karen Jolicoeur Budd
Karen Jolicoeur Budd

So happy to see Cherokee PTA has a well thought out plan of action! I love the sponsorship vs membership idea.

Vic
Vic

It sounds like a case of the old adage:  Power corrupts.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Perhaps the National PTA should step in and put a stop to this nonsense.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

There is a major difference of opinion as to whether Lisa-Marie Haygood  was an asset or a liability; it IS true that she led a no holds barred, truth be damned, campaign to block the OSD. Thousands of students are suffering and hundreds of incompetent teachers were protected by her efforts. 


I understand the teachers' union fighting OSD, but why didn't the PTA look out for students and parents instead of teachers?


I know a LOT of well-intended people who fell for their charade.

Astropig
Astropig

Just my opinion,but...


Wouldn't it be easier and more effective to put pressure on these people to do the right thing if we knew who they are? Who's toes would be stepped on by naming names?.


Also,this jumped out at me:


"There are questions about an election where more ballots were counted than there were delegates voting"


Anybody else think that the state attorney general should look into this little nugget?


And I wouldn't be at all surprised if a thorough audit of this new regime would be interesting reading.If they are openly pursuing perks and expense paid junkets,then is it a stretch to think that they would play fast and loose with the organizations finances?


Lots of smoke here.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

I'm sure the National PTA has Standards of Conduct clauses in the contract their affiliates have to agree to when the chapter is formed.  The National PTA could pull the plug on Ga PTA if they wished, but I am also guessing there is a lot of money generated by GA that flows to the national chapter, so they'll keep protesting and working with them until the cash flow starts dropping.

I'm having trouble figuring out what is motivating all these shenanigans by the Ga Chapter - other than egos.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@BurroughstonBroch @Lee_CPA2 I think the popularity of a Republican Georgia PTA president from Cherokee County and her success in fighting the Opportunity School District -- she became the public face of the battle and was highly effective -- created tensions and jealousies. I also think she ran the PTA like a business and not a club and that did not sit well with longtime members used to a more informal approach. I think there is an age difference here as well; One of the chief architects of the coup is an older woman who came to PTA at a time when it was more of a club. 

Astropig
Astropig

@Lee_CPA2 Lee,


If the current regime was dipping into the treasury, what line items in their financial statements would you look at first to smoke out improprieties? 

Tanya Myers
Tanya Myers

What a parental dilemma! Our local PTAs in DeKalb do phenomenal work - but this is the first year (after 8 years as a DeKalb schools parent) that I've considered not joining.

Carole Veschi
Carole Veschi

To get a more desirable top locker in our High School it is necessary to join PTA first

kaelyn
kaelyn

I know PTA is viewed as a sacred cow, but is the organization relevant today? I'm all for being involved with my local schools, but why do I have to join the PTA and have some of my money given to their lobbying efforts? Maybe I don't agree with everything the national (or state) level people do. I hate that they guilt you into joining and then, at least in our current school, you wonder what they did all year and where the money went.

I'll skip the membership this year. I'll continue to financially support some student clubs and organizations, teacher appreciation, and any school fundraisers. My money doesn't like drama, so it's best to keep the two separated.

Michael2255
Michael2255

@kaelyn The drama was created to weaken the organization before its next fight against the governor.

Heather Curtis Shaw
Heather Curtis Shaw

I sure hope for the students, teachers, and families of Georgia that Georgia PTA does not implode, however a change is needed and fast! What is happening at GA PTA is sad.

Enoch19
Enoch19

The state PTA is an embarrassment. It's time for the adults to take over again and run this organization properly.  Money, race, perks and power are the language of selfish little people, not of people committed to what is best for students.  

If they don't get this fixed, school after school, district after district will just change to a PTO and cut them and National out of the picture.  People will vote with their feet and leave.

weetamoe
weetamoe

The Georgia PTA is like the democrat administration that destroyed health care in this country.

Phillyphil
Phillyphil

@weetamoe what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Chenin Curtright Kemmerlin
Chenin Curtright Kemmerlin

Not surprised by the PTA's lack of action at the state level. In my opinion the brand is tarnished in our state.

Jennifer Falk
Jennifer Falk

Well our nation is imploding so why not the Georgia PTA?

John Palmer
John Palmer

The GaPTA imploded months ago. It's just now catching up with them. May those who truly want to support our children win this battle for this organization.

Jenna Schuh
Jenna Schuh

I really liked our georgia PTA president last year who was ousted. This is all so tawdry!

Lisa Dahl Dwyer
Lisa Dahl Dwyer

and I worry about how it will hurt local pta memberships this year.

Jenna Schuh
Jenna Schuh

Lisa Dahl Dwyer oh it's gonna hurt for sure. They only get $1.50 but that's $1.50 too much!! I wonder how we can help people feel comfortable paying it? I don't want to either!

Lisa Dawes Reynolds
Lisa Dawes Reynolds

Lisa Dahl Dwyer our school president has been and still is in contact with the National PTA president about the issues at the state level. Our school PTSA board and committees are going to continue their work whether or not GA PTA gets their act together. If anything, our parents' membership helps our school more than the GA PTA. Definitely a topic for our first meeting. See you there!

Becky Buice
Becky Buice

So embarrassed by our state PTA. Thank you Lisa-Marie Haygood and Debbie Sauls Rabjohn for all you did, are doing and will continue to do for our children, our schools and our PTA.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

There is a major difference of opinion as to whether Lisa-Marie Haygood  was an asset or a liability; it IS true that she led a no holds barred, truth be damned, campaign to block the OSD. Thousands of students are suffering and hundreds of incompetent teachers were protected by her efforts. 


I understand the teachers' union fighting OSD, but why didn't the PTA look out for students and parents instead of teachers?


I know a LOT of well-intended people who fell for their charade.

Tamara Liles
Tamara Liles

\U0001f62f thanks for sending this on to us. We are looking into this for our PTA as well.

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

They have an $800,000,00 budget?? And there are "racial overtones." Let me guess...

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@TaxiSmith It does not appear to be about the money as much as the power and perks. 

Nicole Madeline Powell
Nicole Madeline Powell

Our district is going from PTA to PTO. I was just told this at a football practice by other parents

Patty McSweeney Yohn
Patty McSweeney Yohn

I think you're right! But the people trying to run from the floor have many years of experience and are well respected. Perhaps if we can rally enough people to attend to vote (with National oversight) we can oust this corrupt board and elect leaders who want to try to rebuild and refocus on the kids.

Erika Strom Brasco
Erika Strom Brasco

There are many, many of us that are trying out best to keep this from happening.

Gloria Brown
Gloria Brown

u won???who lost???the children...the people that y'all have worked so hard to vote in have being spewing hatred all weekend, from the media to social media...u speak of transparency so let me expose your FAB5 for the people they truly are...according to a post on Ad Hoc Committee to restore GA PTA..."grass root effort to restore Lisa Marie Haygood to the legitimate Presidency of Georgia PTA..." this website have been used to solicit/campaign for the FAB5 that was voted into office this weekend...it is these group of people that have gone above and beyond to cause ciaos...it is sad that in y'all effort to dis-credit very good people y'all loss track of what/who PTA really stands for...Lisa Marie Haygood needs to be transparent...no one just get removed from a position that they was clearly voted into w/o cause???could it be that she was caught with her hand in the cookie jar???maybe/maybe not, but what we do know there is due process and if she wasn't guilty of something we wouldn't be here... the only reason i can see y'all being so bent out of shape is because a majority black committee exposed whatever the issue was so now the grass root crew hand selected their own committee (majority white) and got behind them by falsifying memberships and attending an event that was designed to train new members like myself (which didn't happen because of all the ciaos, wasting not only my time but money as well) and vote on a new committee (that was majority black) to cause a backdoor attack on unsuspecting nominees, with the claim that u didn't understand the invite to run for a position, which i truly doubt because we know 5+ understood...Y'all want to make this a race issue (and succeeded) should i post the screenshots of your erased posts???Y'all have truly made a mockery of the GA PTA, it is truly sad to see how far y'all would go to have your way...now because of this i can c this being the way for some time to come!!!silly women with no real purpose!!!!