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Gwinnett Schools to Georgia PTA leaders: No confidence in you. No money from us.

The Gwinnett County Public Schools is lending its clout as the state's largest system to the growing demand for reform of the leadership of Georgia PTA. The National PTA sent a letter a few days ago sharing its dismay over the board's antics and warning the attorney general could be involved if allegations of election misdeeds prove true.

Thus far, the controlling faction of the Georgia PTA that staged a coup in January and wrested control, expelling the president and anyone who supported her, has ignored the escalating outrage. Its recent actions on elections -- locking out anyone who planned to run from the floor at this weekend's annual convention through a procedural maneuver -- provoked the National PTA president to state:

Indeed, National PTA fears the elections will further damage PTA’s name and be repudiated by Georgia PTA members. Any appearance of stifling a Georgia PTA member’s ability to run for officer positions or any perception of a closed or rigged process will further harm PTA at all levels. This is the time for flexibility, transparency, and member-responsiveness by the Georgia PTA board. National PTA strongly encourages Georgia PTA to identify ways to open the election process.

If Georgia PTA disregards our strong recommendation, National PTA expects disarray and parliamentary challenges at your CLT, legal ramifications, and the involvement of the Georgia Attorney General.

But the threat of Gwinnett schools, long a PTA stalwart, leaving the organization would just about spell the end of Georgia PTA as we know it.

In a letter, Gwinnett Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks wrote, "We have no confidence in the current board and officers of Georgia PTA." Wilbanks notes PTA state leaders overseeing the Gwinnett area "are being investigated for possible misuse of PTA funds."

As a result, Wilbanks has asked local units to withhold any funds that usually go to the state PTA  "until we feel the grave matters before us have been satisfactorily addressed."

I also heard tonight from Taliaferro Superintendent Allen Fort. He said his district "is also going to withhold funds to the state PTA until they get their house in order. It is very sad that the Georgia PTA, once a very respected and viable partner of education in our state, has fallen into such disarray."

Here is what Gwinnett sent to Georgia PTA President Tyler Barr:

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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.