Monday, May 28, 2012

Can PTAs have absentee ballots?

Our local unit has scheduled a vote on the budget for next year for an upcoming meeting, but we’d like to give the members the option of  voting during the afternoon before the meeting. Is that possible? 

No. Until the meeting is actually convened and a motion made to adopt the budget, there’s nothing on which member can vote. Further, what you are proposing is in effect allowing members to cast an absentee ballot, which is prohibited by the bylaws of both the National PTA and Washington State PTA. It’s also possible that there could be a motion to amend the budget as proposed, and if that were passed, any votes cast before the meeting would be negated.

Of course you can –and should—make a draft of the proposed budget available to the membership prior to the meeting, but having them vote on it before the meeting isn’t possible.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Can school staff be on the board and elected to office?

Do the Uniform Bylaws prohibit school staff from holding elected officer positions or serving on the Board of Directors?

The only requirements for elected officers of a local unit are those set forth in Article 5, Section 6(a) of the Uniform Bylaws:  “Each elected officer of a local unit shall be a member of that local PTA unit prior to taking office and be at least eighteen (18) years of age.”  Similarly Article 5, Section 9(a) requires that board members be members of the PTA in good standing.  Therefore the answer to your question is that there is no prohibition per se against staff members holding either elected officer or board positions, assuming they are members.  Having said that, there are additional considerations to take into account.  First, staff members bring a perspective to the board that is often helpful in setting goals and making decisions about activities.  On the other hand, care would need to be taken so that staff members are not engaging in PTA activities during their paid work time.  Also, there are occasional decisions made by the PTA board that might affect the staff in a more direct personal way, so any staff member who is on the board would have to refrain from participating in such decisions or the discussions around them.  Finally because virtually all PTA decisions affect the school community, it is probably not advisable for the principal of the school with which your PTA is affiliated to be a voting member of the PTA board, simply because virtually every decision by the PTA board will affect the school.  Some PTAs ask the school principal to sit in on board meetings as an ex officio non-voting member of the board, as a means of enhancing communications but avoiding the possibility or appearance of a conflict of interest.