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New reality show on Henry County PTO features bake sale divas. District never approved it.


Reality TV is typically anything but, with deliberate attempts to infuse drama where none exists. There is a lot of feigned outrage, goaded battles and ridiculous attire – people taking out the trash in full makeup and coiffed hair.

The reality TV airbrush has been taken to a Parent Teacher Organization in Henry County by the Bravo network, and the resulting show, “Mother Funders, seems to be bake sale divas in the requisite high heels fussing at each other for the sake of the camera. You can read the AJC story about the show here .

Here is how Bravo, home of the “Real Housewives” franchise, describes its new show, which debuts June 14th:

Welcome to the most intense Parent Teacher Organization you've ever encountered. Despite their personalities, tantrums and outbursts, these ladies have their sights set high to raise and donate $100,000. Through lavish fundraising events from a Black Tie Gala to a Pink Pajama party, these mothers must work together and adhere to the strict rules and high expectations of their demanding commander-in-chief.

The Henry school district is not pleased with the show and the identification of the elementary school involved. In the comments, several folks question the judgment of the school district but a spokesman told me today Henry nixed the idea when the PTO president came with the proposal.

"The Henry County School District did not approve this show whatsoever in any form or fashion," said spokesman J.D. Hardin. "With that being said, we told them you cannot film on school property, you cannot have cameras on school property and can't use the school's name or the school system's name. One would be led to believe you couldn't pull off your show given that, but this group of ladies went off and acted on their own and are doing this show."

Scenes that appear to show classrooms were not filmed in Henry County schools, said Hardin.

The Henry County School District does not profit from the show, said Hardin. "The school system had no stake in this."

As a result of the show and community complaints about its tone and tenor, the "PTO has been dissolved until further notice," said Hardin. "We are not anti-PTO. We recognize and value the important role they play in helping the school. But those associated with the PTO stepped outside their boundaries."

No one involved with a PTO will deny there are tensions, politics and cliques, but mostly there’s fund raising, long meetings, pleas to get parents involved and more fund raising. The reality show tends to accent the former rather than the latter because it makes for better TV.

PTO Today has a good story on the show and the fallout: (This is an excerpt. Read the full story here.)

Since Bravo ran a half-hour preview of Mother Funders last month, the school district the show is based on has had a stream of complaints from community members on the over-the-top portrayal of PTO leaders. School officials have also found themselves in conflict with the show’s creators, who they say agreed to not reveal the identity of the real school and PTO—but then did so in the preview.

But the biggest casualty so far: The real PTO on which the TV show is based will be temporarily shut down. A school district spokesman said Wednesday that the community’s negative reaction to the show was so strong that officials decided the PTO couldn’t function, at least for now.

“It’s the intent to bring the PTO back at some point, but when there’s some distance with what has just happened,’’ says J.D. Hardin, who heads up communications and community relations  for the Henry County School District in McDonough, Ga. “The wound is still fresh, and people are still associating the show’s PTO with the school. “


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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.