Thursday, May 19, 2016

Wonder how that PTO situation unfolded?

Well, let me just share with you the letter I sent to the PTO board, the school principal, and the teacher rep:

Hello All,

Thanks for the messages of support.  I could have really used a heads up—I definitely would not have run for board co-president, and the whole mess could have been avoided.  But, it wasn’t about making sure I wasn’t president of the board.  It was about making me feel terrible, and that’s the part that really hurts—the intent and the organized voting block.  What a mean thing to do!

When I was a kid in elementary school, my mom was in the PTA and was always a room mom for my class who made treats for my birthday and planned all of our class parties, and I remember how happy that made me feel.  I was so proud of her, and even though I was a good kid who loved school, it was always so comforting to have my mom pop in from time to time and be part of my school day.  I knew that when I had kids, I wanted to do the same thing for them.  Volunteering at the kids’ schools is a core part of my identity and something that has always made me really happy, despite the long hours and often thankless nature of the tasks.

This morning, though, it was really, really hard for me to even walk across the street and help Jack look for the coat he lost.

The faculty sent a clear message that I am not welcome at [big kids' school]—an ironic message, to be sure, given the SIP goal about community and family engagement, and it has really thrown me for a loop.

I really didn’t want to be president of the board for another year, and I was well aware of the term limit restrictions.  I asked people over and over again if they wanted the job, and we previewed the slate of officers at our exec meeting two weeks ago because I wanted to make sure people had a chance to tell me if they didn’t think I should run again because I didn’t want to look stupid at the election meeting.  I reached out to the Westside PTO list serve to ask what other PTOs did about term limits (answer:  they ignored them for uncontested elections), but I am such a rule follower that I thought it made more sense for a formal motion, which I thought was going to be a pretty pro-forma vote based on the responses I got when I canvassed the group.

It would have been the right thing to do to tell me before the meeting that I shouldn’t run again.  I would have been happy not to.  I am so embarrassed that I made that Power Point—I must have looked like such an idiot.

When [the school principal] called me before the meeting to ask me about paper ballots (this would have been a perfect time for a heads up, by the way), I didn’t know why they’d be necessary in an uncontested election, but I get it now.  The teachers wanted to say that having no co-president was better than having me volunteer my time, but they wanted to save a little face doing it.

I have heard from so many parents, and it means so much to me.  Thanks for your support.  I don’t know how to be a mom without being a mom who volunteers at school, so of course I will keep doing it even though I would kind of rather crawl into a hole. There were a thousand better ways to handle my further participation in the PTO, but don’t worry!  I will try to be annoyingly undeterred. 



  1. OMG what happened? This is infuriating! It's hard enough to get people to volunteer at school, why on earth are they being so catty and hostile to you? People have no spine. I've been blindsided like this in a professional setting and it is so embarrassing and hurtful.

    I'm sorry you had to do this, but it is an excellently written letter.

  2. I'm totally stunned by this situation. My husband is an elementary school principal, and I can't imagine a situation in which his faculty/staff would be so rude to a parent. What the hell happened here? I'm sorry you were embarrassed, and that you feel unwelcome in a place that should be thrilled to have parents like you volunteering their time.

  3. You know, I don't know what the hell happened. I posted on FB when Harry got in trouble for bouncing a ball at school and the principal yelled at me about it. And then I got really, really mad at an aid for yelling at Dorothy and the principal yelled at me. I blogged about these things. We had a really contentious PTO board meeting where I opposed the principal's insistence that the board follow a social media posting policy and she told me and Ben we didn't have to volunteer at her school if we didn't like her rules. I guess she really meant it.

  4. Social media posting policies are for protecting student identity and privacy, not to prevent legitimate criticism or anecdotes about your own family! For heaven's sake!

  5. You really need to go to the district about this principal. Her behavior is absolutely unacceptable

  6. I've read this post like six times and still all I have in response is a mental "Whaaaaat??!!" and a bunch of confused and angry emoji faces. I both want more details and know that additional details will not change my WTF/angry emoji reaction.

  7. I am appalled at this! Obviously, there may be a policy of "check your 1st amendment rights at the door", but no anti-bullying policy. That terrible woman, gathering her toadies and lying in wait for for you is no different than kids waiting at the alley to beat you up! This raises questions in my mind about fitness to supervise children.

  8. Anonymous11:55 AM

    American excellence, brilliance , innovation ,superiority over the whole rest of the world all ends at the doorway of public schools , sadly!
    Its was very insensitive of them to treat you like that.

  9. I don't know the whole backstory, but it sounds horrendous! And what a shitty move to be so under-handed! I'm dumbstruck that people so focused on helping mold good citizens would act like such assholes. The letter is awesome though. Good for you!