Saturday, September 1, 2012

Is there a policy regarding PTA email addresses?

We’re getting organized for the year and one of our officers raised a question about the advisability of using her personal home email address for PTA purposes. Does Washington State PTA have a policy or guidance on this issue? Also if we do use our own personal email addresses, are they subject to public disclosure

The short answer to your question is no—WSPTA does not have a policy about individual PTA leaders using their personal email addresses and including them in their various means of communicating with their members. Rather it’s up to you to decide what works best for their communities.  As you may have noticed, at the state association there are a set of position-based email addresses that are passed along from person to person.  That enables you to contact the WSPTA president at, regardless of who’s currently holding that position, and there are similar addresses for each WSPTA board position.   Many local PTAs follow a similar pattern by creating an email account at one of the free services, Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, etc., and then passing it on from year to year. 

While we’re on the subject of email addresses, I do recommend that school district employees not use their school email addresses when they become a member of PTA because some of our newsletters include advocacy information and we wouldn’t want to inadvertently create a problem for them or the school district with the Public Disclosure Commission.  While I certainly understand that they may not wish to make their personal home email addresses available to parents, I’d encourage them to set up a PTA only email address so they can stay informed about what is happening at the local, state and national level of PTA.

As for public disclosure of PTA email addresses, PTAs are private entities and not subject to the state public disclosure laws.  However sometimes PTA information is distributed through school facilities, e.g. websites or email blasts on the district server, hard copy newsletters distributed through what we call “jeans mail”, etc.  If you do decide to use your personal email addresses on such publications, they may become public through public disclosure requests to the school district.