MCCPTA Comments on the MCPS Action to suspend Flyer Privileges to PTAs and Policy CNA:  Informational Materials and Announcements

August 24, 2006



MCCPTA has closely followed the legal discourse of the past few years over Policy CNA:  Informational Materials and Announcements.  Two weeks ago Montgomery County Public Schools and the Board of Education were presented with three choices by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals; unfortunately, MCPS and the Board chose the option which was the most drastic and far reaching and would do the most harm to PTAs, parents, teachers, and students across the county. 


We assert PTAs have a unique and special relationship with their schools such that many functions are inextricably linked.  A PTA’s relationship with its school is substantially different from that of other community groups. We know the Board agrees with this assertion, and further agrees that PTAs do have a unique status that would withstand legal attack.  So we cannot help but be dismayed that we are brought to this juncture, asking MCPS to overturn an action that need not to be taken in the first place. Notwithstanding the proposal the Superintendent brings before the Board today, PTAs across the county believe the actions of the past week reveal a stunning disregard for the contributions PTAs have made over a 61-year history of collaboration with MCPS.


We are pleased that the Board recognizes the urgency of this situation and plans to take action on August 30, rather than waiting for the September Board meeting.  However, irreparable harm will have already taken place as many PTAs are precluded from participation in open houses scheduled for tomorrow, and will likewise be prohibited from sending home materials such as membership forms, volunteer surveys, and directory information requests, which are traditionally sent home the first day of school.  Every day of delay harms our children and because the nature of the solution—spending money on postage—depends on the resources of each local PTA, children and families in highly impacted areas will be disproportionately affected.  The Superintendent can and should act today to select the second option offered by the court even as the Board moves forward with its efforts to amend Policy CNA.   


Furthermore, PTA members across the county view MCPS’s actions as an excessive over-reaction to the recent court decision.  MCPS suspended PTA involvement in many activities which are unrelated to the subject of the lawsuit.  Our attorney has advised us that actions such as requiring schools to disable links to PTA web sites and restricting PTA participation in Back to School Nights are well beyond the scope of the suit or the Fourth Circuit’s decision.


On behalf of MCCPTA and its more than 51,000 members I respectfully request that you immediately rescind the directive to disable links from school web sites, many of them built and maintained by PTA members, to PTA web sites.  I request that you advise all Principals that PTAs have an integral and valued role in Back to School Nights and that their participation in BTSNs is not encumbered by the court’s decision or subsequent MCPS actions.


MCCPTA members have continuing concerns and questions regarding how other vital parent groups such as booster clubs and local school educational foundations, the NAACP Parent Council and those representing Latino and Asian parents will be treated under the proposed revisions to policy CNA. We believe they are valued members of the school community as well.


Finally, I would like to ask you, Board members and the Superintendent, to take additional steps to ratify the unique relationship PTAs have with their schools and to reaffirm today the importance of PTAs as the primary vehicle of parent involvement in our schools.