Nominations and Elections—A How to Guide for PTAs

One of the critical roles given to a PTA’s general membership is the election of its officers, a process that begins with the election of the nominating committee by the general membership. Nominating and electing a good slate of officers is essential for a PTA’s success.

Nominations and Elections Timeline

Because the nomination and election of officers is a central part of how a PTA operates, most of the information you need on how your PTA conducts this process will be in your local PTA bylaws. Article VI—Officers and Their Election contains most of the details.

To determine when nominations and elections need to occur for your PTA, you have to work backwards from the election date. Section 2b of Article VI says when the election of officers is to be conducted. For most PTAs, this is the last PTA meeting of the school year. Once you know the date your PTA will be conducting the election, Section 4b of Article VI states that the nominating committee must report the slate at least 30 days prior to the election meeting. Because you will want to give the nominating committee time to do their work in determining a slate of candidates, you will need to elect the nominating committee a month or two prior to when the committee needs to make its report.

So for a PTA holding an election at their May general membership meeting, the nominating committee will need to make their report in April. That means that PTAs should be electing their nominating committee in February or March at the latest.

Nominating Committee

Section 3 of Article VI states that the nominating committee is to be elected, and Section 4 spells out how big the committee is and where its members are elected from. PTAs are encouraged to have their nominating committee made up of an odd number of people so that the committee is less likely to have a tie when voting between multiple candidates for the slate.

In general, a PTA’s executive board (officers and committee chairs) and the general membership each elect nominating committee members and one alternate from their body. The PTA president may not serve on the nominating committee. The nominating committee meets immediately after their election and determines its own committee chair.

Nominating committee members should review the duties for each office, found in Article VII of the PTA’s bylaws, to familiarize themselves with what skills the committee will be looking for in candidates for each position. Those already in an officer position and eligible for reelection should be considered by the committee, but the committee is free to nominate someone else for the position.

The nominating committee should keep all discussion of potential candidates confidential within the committee. That allows committee members to speak freely on the qualifications of each potential nominee without fear of having critical comments go beyond the committee.

The committee must have the consent of a proposed nominee to slate them, and the proposed nominee must be a member of the PTA or of the PTA for a feeder school for at least 30 days prior to the election in order to be nominated (Article VI, Section 4d). Where the committee is considering between two or more potential nominees, the committee selects the nominee by majority vote by ballot.

Nominating committee members may be considered as a nominee for an officer position. If that is the case, the committee member being considered leaves the room for the discussion of all nominees for that position and does not return until the committee has determined their nominee. The alternate member from the body (executive board or general membership) replaces the committee member who was excused during consideration of nominees for that position.

When the nominating committee decides on a candidate for a positon, they should contact that person while the committee is meeting to confirm their agreement to be nominated. The committee nominates one person for each officer position listed in the bylaws and makes its report of the nominees at least 30 days prior to the election meeting.

Elections

At the election meeting, the PTA president has the nominating committee chair again read the slate of candidates nominated by the committee. The president then asks if there are nominations from the floor, going through each position one at a time. If someone is nominated from the floor, the president should confirm that the person has agreed to be nominated and has been a member of the PTA or a member of the PTA at a feeder school for at least 30 days. When there are no further nominations from the floor, the president declares that nominations are closed.

Section 2b of Article VI states that the election is to be conducted by ballot, but that if there is only one nominee for an office, the election for that position may be conducted by voice with a motion from the floor to do so. That means that if there are two candidates for President, but only one candidate for Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer, a motion can be made to conduct the election of the latter three positions by voice, but the election of the President would still be by ballot.

Conducting the election by voice vote is a two-step process. First, the motion is made and seconded to conduct the election by voice for uncontested positions. This requires a majority vote to approve. A second motion is then made to make the nominated candidate(s) the elected officer(s) for those uncontested elections.

When a ballot vote must be conducted, the President appoints three tellers to handle the election. The tellers are to:

  • Verify that the person being given a ballot is a PTA member
  • Informs each member to indicate their choice by making an “X” in the box next to the person’s name that they wish to vote for (i.e., not a check mark, but two crossing lines)
  • Collects the ballots or makes sure that they are deposited in a sealed ballot box
  • Retire to count the ballots when the polls are closed
  • Report the results of the ballot election without declaring that the individuals are elected, and hand the report to the PTA President

In order to vote in the election, a person must have been a member of the PTA for at least 30 days prior to the election. This 30 day membership requirement for both candidates and voters is to protect your PTA. It means that a crowd of people cannot walk into your PTA’s election meeting, pay membership dues, and then nominate and elect a candidate who just joined the PTA that day.

When the election is concluded, whether by ballot or voice vote, the President declares who has been elected for each position. Those newly elected officers will assume their official duties as described in the bylaws (Article VI, Section 2c).

Additional information on nominations and elections can be found in the President section of the Illinois PTA Leadership Resources.

10 Steps to Deal with Suspected Fraud or Theft in Your PTA

Theft and fraud are relatively rare in PTA, but it does happen. For PTAs that are using best practices when handling money, making deposits, and writing checks, they are even less likely to occur. By being proactive and examining your PTA’s processes and controls, your PTA can better avoid being a victim of theft or fraud. However, if you suspect your PTA has mishandled finances, here are ten steps to take.

  1. To protect from being accused of defamation or libel, do not make any premature accusations. Start with a discreet investigation of the facts, including an audit, documenting any funds that can’t be properly accounted for or that have been misused.
  2. Freeze bank accounts. Conduct no further activity until all facts can be gathered.
  3. Notify your insurance company of suspected theft or fraud. Provide them with the facts you have gathered.
  4. Do not make an offer to not report the theft or fraud if the money is paid back. Such an offer is extortion.
  5. Contact your police department and provide them with the information they request. Do not wait to do this, as PTAs are accountable for reporting theft or fraud. A delay on reporting could be construed as being complicit with the fraudulent activity.
  6. Now let the insurance company and police department do their work and report to you on their findings.
  7. If your PTA is currently required to file an Annual AG-990 Report to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, you must report any theft or fraud on Item 10 of that report and file an attachment describing the details of the case. Item 10 on that report appears as follows:

10. WAS THERE OR DO YOU HAVE ANY KNOWLEDGE OF ANY KICKBACK, BRIBE, OR ANY THEFT, DEFALCATION, MISAPPROPRIATION, COMMINGLING OR MISUSE OF ORGANIZATIONAL FUNDS?

  1. In the case of findings of theft or fraud, your PTA must use Form 990 or 990 EZ to disclose the dollar amount involved and your corrective actions. You may not use 990N in any year your PTA is a victim of theft or fraud.
  2. During the time an investigation of theft or fraud is being conducted for your PTA, please be careful to manage all communications to protect your PTA image. Use positive messaging such as:

The situation is being handled in a lawful manner. Anytown PTA has already made changes in procedure to reduce the risk of anything like this happening again in the future.

  1. Be extremely discreet about any information naming the suspect(s) to protect any of their children from suffering any negativity or bullying from other kids at school.

Also remember that your Illinois PTA District or Region Director is there to help you through this process, so don’t hesitate to reach out to them.

Time to Plan for Take Your Family to School Week

PTA celebrates Founder’s Day on February 17theach year, and the week that includes that date is Take Your Family to School Week. National PTA has created a toolkit to help you plan your celebration for February 10-17, 2019.

The toolkit walks you through the planning process and provides you with ready-to-use promotional materials. There are four types of events you can plan:

  • Health & Safety Event
  • Literacy Event
  • Digital Learning Event
  • STEM Event

Once you’ve decided on which type of event to host, you can use the customizable flyers and templates (in both English and Spanish) to invite families, make announcements, include in newsletters, invite the news media, and share on social media. There is also a photo release form that you can have all your participants complete so you can share photos of your event.

After your event is over, there is a template thank you letter for your volunteers and event supporters in both English and Spanish. There is also a feedback form to share with National PTA on how your event went to help them improve the programs for future years. And don’t forget to share your photos on social media with the hashtag #PTAProud.Check out the toolkitand start planning today.

7 Tips for Effective PTA Social Media

Social media is one of the most powerful tools a PTA can use to spread its message, but only if it is used effectively. Creating an effective social media presence for your PTA can help you gain members, recruit volunteers, and promote your PTA to potential partners and sponsors. Here are 7 tips to help you get started.

  1. What are your goals? Figure out what your PTA wants to accomplish with social media, whether it is raising awareness, communicating with members of your school community, or getting attendance and volunteers for your events. Being mindful of the results you want will shape how you approach your PTA’s social media presence.
  2. Who is your audience? Your choice of social media and message can vary depending on who you are trying to reach. If you are only targeting your school community and looking to recruit members, share news of events, and have volunteers sign up to help, your free PTA MemberHub account can easily handle all of that and more in one phone app. If you’re looking to spread your message beyond your school walls, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or YouTube may be better. Keep in mind that having multiple social media outlets aimed at different audiences works well, but be sure to keep your messaging consistent across them all.
  3. Use the right tool for the right job. Facebook is probably the most common PTA social media choice, but don’t forget the others. Twitter works well for sharing things in real time, as does Instagram for events that have good visual appeal. YouTube and Facebook Live can provide your PTa a way to share PTA meetings, programs, and events with those who can’t attend in person.
  4. Track your success. Most social media platforms provide some tools for monitoring how your posts resonate with your audience. Keep track of followers and subscribers, likes and retweets, and other metrics. Pay attention to which posts generate the most engagement and which ones don’t.
  5. Don’t forget the hashtag. A good hashtag can help you track what others may be saying about your PTA as well. Some popular hashtags that see a lot of use for PTAs include #PTAProud, #DoGoodThings4Kids, #WhyPTA, #PTA4Kids, #PowerOfPTA, and #MembershipMatters. Create a hashtag that identifies your PTA and use it with your posts.
  6. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. There are a lot of different social media platforms, and effectively using them takes time. Assess how much of your PTA resources, including volunteer time, to devote to social media.
  7. Be authentic. In all of your social media posts, be transparent and trustworthy. The news is full of stories of businesses and individuals who handled social media messages poorly or ineffectively, and the backlash can be extremely damaging. Being authentic helps your PTA build a connection with your audience and makes them more likely to trust your PTA, join, and volunteer. Set up procedures to have more than one set of eyes look over posts before they go live to catch typos, review content, and avoid accidentally offending anyone. Consider how someone could misuse or abuse your hashtag or message to convey the opposite of what you intended.

Graphic courtesy of Ibrahim.IDunder Creative Commons license.