The National PTA revoked the Maryland PTA’s charter Friday, disbanding the umbrella organization representing 160,000 children and hundreds of school PTAs across the state after a year of friction between the two groups.
National PTA President Leslie C. Boggs said in an interview that the national organization had never revoked a state charter before and called the action “heartbreaking.” The announcement escalates more than seven months of disputes between the National PTA and the Maryland PTA over management and culture at the Glen Burnie-based organization.
The move means the Maryland PTA is no longer sanctioned by the national organization and cannot interact with the local PTAs.
“The entity formerly known as the Maryland PTA no longer exists,” Boggs said.
Setting the stage for a longer battle, however, the Maryland PTA leadership made it clear it would not acknowledge the charter revocation, and said it would continue to work with local PTAs.
“The nonprofit corporation is still open for business,” wrote Tonja Carrera, the president of the Maryland PTA, in an email.
Carrera said she believes the revocation of the agreement is retaliation for “my revelation of a plot of individuals affiliated with National PTA attempting to mismanage and bankrupt our organization.”
She said she “looks forward to revealing the behind-the-scenes truth in the near future.”
Boggs said her organization would ask the Maryland PTA to hand over an unknown amount of money in its checking account, stop using the PTA brand and take any mention of the organization off its site.
She does not expect the state organization to comply, so the national organization has sent a cease and desist letter to the Maryland PTA and has been in touch with the Maryland Attorney General so “that he can take control of the Maryland PTA assets” and ensure that the money can be spent locally.
In a letter to members of her local PTA Councils, Boggs said she would support the local chapters until a new state entity is created. She said the new nonprofit would be called Freestate PTA.
The Maryland PTA has existed for 105 years, Boggs said, and had a rich history.
“We never wanted to be in this position today,” she said.
The national group had put the state organization on probation and was working to restructure it following high turnover on its board caused by “hostile” leadership that prevented members from performing their duties.
The national organization said the Maryland PTA was out of compliance with the standards for the organization. Boggs said she had listened to the concerns of local chapters and was taking action on their behalf.
After working for more than a year to support the leadership of the Maryland PTA, Bogg said, “there became a point where we knew there was not a willingness to come into compliance.”
While they had resolved some issues, Boggs said the statewide group had not provided financial and “operational” records for the national organization to review, and didn’t have procedures for an annual meeting and election of officers.
Carrera said the national PTA’s action means that local school PTAs will no longer be asked to subsidize the “over $1 million of compensation for top National PTA leadership. We will be expanding our scope to include supporting school-based nonprofits such as PTOs and band boosters,” she wrote in an email.
An attorney who represented the Maryland PTA in legal action it took against the national organization said the group did not accept the action by the National PTA.
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“What national has done is exhibit A proof that they care nothing about Maryland’s parents and students from the Maryland PTA,” Charles Tucker Jr. said.
The national organization, Tucker said, has been plotting to take away the state’s charter for nearly a year.
“It became very apparent as early as June that national had no intention of working with anyone except a few” in the local PTAs who were secretly communicating behind the Maryland PTAs back, he said.
He did not comment on what action former members of the Maryland PTA could take.
Local leaders said they weren’t concerned the dispute between the National PTA and Maryland PTA would affect the work of their chapters.
“I have every confidence in the national organization,” said Jayne Lee, president of the Baltimore County PTA. “It will not effect any PTA in our state. Everything will go on as it has been and they will be under the organization of the national.”
The PTA is the nation’s largest child advocacy group with 4 million members, and it works with schools by volunteering in classrooms and raising money for supplies.