It's unfortunate that Jerry Ashby doesn't understand that as president of the Havre de Grace Elementary School PTA, he doesn't speak for the PTA. He gathers his authority only by meeting with its members in a formal meeting and seeking authorization to go public on any topic. To do otherwise is not just a misuse of the position, but an abuse of power.
I am amazed that he saw no connection even when he was questioned on this very topic at a recent PTA meeting. Certainly he has every right to speak as a private citizen, but to continually attach "PTA" to his interviews with news reporters is intentionally leading the reporters and the reader to feel the PTA is supporting his comments.
How could the organization do that? The fellow officers didn't know what he was doing; there were no special meetings called to make members or board members aware.
When Mr. Ashby was questioned about his public "PTA" comments he responded, "You know how newspapers are," suggesting he was misquoted. I feel it's highly unlikely that he was misquoted since both the editor of the Record and a reporter from The Sun included references to the PTA.
Again in the Aegis' June 14 Open Forum, a letter, submitted by him, was printed wherein there are additional references to our organization. It was even signed by him as president of the organization. There can be no doubt that he wanted to impress the reader with his "position and authority." When Mr. Ashby was questioned in public about this, he said that the newspaper had added his title on its own.
I doubt that is what occurred. To believe that response is to believe the rules/regulations imposed by papers on themselves lack credibility. While a news reporter might mistake a person's intent, two or more on separate dates are not likely to do so. Nor should the reader believe that our newspapers lack the integrity to print a letter to the editor revealing what the authors of those letters wish to say.
There is no denying that there are problems to be resolved at the school. . . . Mr. Ashby has now thrust our PTA into a very serious state of affairs. He has possibly misled Andre Fournier, president of the Harford County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, as well as many others. He has placed our charter in jeopardy and thereby added more tarnish to our school's name.
It's time to look at setting up a win-win situation! It's time to be read a small but none-the-less meaningful editorial in the Record, June 9, which in part said, "But it is impossible to say how much of the anxiety and anger of parents is based on misinformation or not knowing all of the facts." Personnel matters need to remain private and personal. To "solve" any of this in the newspaper is counterproductive.
Ruth Ann Young
Havre de Grace
Upon reading the article printed in the Aegis dated June 21, it became apparent that there are others who hold a more professional attitude toward the operations and functions of the PTA.
Some may feel as though the actions that are being requested from the county, state and federal levels of the PTA as too drastic. In all reality, drastic measures may be necessary.
The current president of the Havre de Grace Elementary School PTA has personally made this action a possible reality. He has run the organization in the most unprofessional manner. He has not only run the association into the ground but also alienated many of its most important members.
Jerry Ashby not only violated the national charter but also the real spirit and meaning of the PTA. He has jeopardized the organization by using it to serve his own personal agenda. Working for his own good and not toward the benefit of all the other members or parents with students at the school.
Mr. Ashby had been forewarned that neither he nor the PTA had the authority to get involved in management-labor disputes. Furthermore, it was suggested that if he wanted to pursue the issue as the president of the PTA, a meeting should be called and it should be discussed to see if it could be placed on the agenda. This he did not do.
He was also informed that if he wanted to get involved in labor-management discussions, he should make it clear that he was acting as a concerned citizen and not as president of the PTA. It was strongly suggested that he do this at the onset of the meeting. This was suggested so management or labor could have the opportunity to decline his presence at the meeting.
This he didn't do and he used his position as president to involve himself. It is clear he wanted to involve himself in a labor dispute and he used that position as a way to involve himself.
He clearly has taken the position of labor.
Mr. Ashby has been informed that the teachers have representation through the teachers association, and that the school system has a grievance policy and a personnel policy. Any actions that occur should be the result of such policies. If the teachers violate such policies, it isn't the responsibility of the PTA to try and correct or rectify them. There are other systems in place to protect teachers' rights.
It is apparent the teachers tried to create a job action of some kind against management. They lost because they didn't read the personnel policy that is readily available to them in the office. This opinion was shared with Mr. Ashby.
This is the opinion of a former and very active member of the Maryland Classified Employees Association (MCEA) who was involved with management-labor disputes. The issues Mr. Ashby involved himself in should be seen as a clear insult to teachers' associations representatives and leadership.
To the best knowledge of the PTA membership, the teachers association or its representatives requested no such involvement. The reason for this is clear: The teachers association leadership knew it was a clear violation of the PTA charter bylaws.
Mr. Ashby continues to violate the bylaws as of June 21 by continuing to get involved in partisan and factional political activities. He has done nothing to slow or stop discontent.
Instead, he continues to openly criticize the principal and management openly and flagrantly, in public forum such as the newspapers. In return, he has split the PTA and caused discontent against many parents, teachers and the principal.
Due to Mr. Ashby's inability and unwillingness to follow all advice or the national bylaws of the PTA, it is clear that there are only two choices. One is to lose the national charter for the Havre de Grace Elementary PTA. This is the least desirable course of action. All parents with students at this school should not be held accountable for the actions of one person.
The second choice is to remove Mr. Ashby from office. That way Mr. Ashby can be held accountable for his own action, not the whole PTA.
The teachers who got Mr. Ashby involved knew what they were doing. They created their own situation. They also created a situation in which the PTA president used his position in an inappropriate way -- a total abuse of power without the authority.
John G. McMichael
Havre de Grace