We Demand a Fair PTA Officer Election in Jefferson County, KY!
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The 15th District PTA (which covers all of Jefferson County, KY) held its semi-annual officer elections on Tuesday, May 7, 2019. Since this was the first time these elections were contested by candidates "running from the floor," a never-before utilized "voting delegate" process was attempted. Unfortunately, there were many learning curves along the way, proving that implementing a new election process on short notice, while remaining fair, transparent and accessible, is next to impossible. As a result, turnout of "voting delegates" was less than 1/2 of 1% of all members, while many who wanted to vote were denied the ability to do so. This cumbersome process disproportionately shut out many representatives from our more vulnerable schools and populations.
Since 15th District PTA is the organization that oversees each of the PTA units in the 169 schools across the district, and represents to the public, to media, to lawmakers and district decision-makers, nearly 30,000 members in the 29th largest public school district in the nation, with nearly 100,000 students impacted, it is important that this body's leadership be elected following a clearly defined process where all dues-paying members have ample opportunity to participate and have their voices heard. It is also important that the leadership of this important organization is representative of the diverse population it serves.
Over the past several weeks, Dear JCPS has logged numerous complaints from PTA members across the district who said they felt that the new election process, and steps leading up to it, were inequitable, lacked transparency or seemed downright unethical. More than a dozen examples include, but are not limited to:
1) inconsistent or non-existent communication from some local PTA Presidents to their members regarding how to become a voting delegate; 2) barriers to sign up to become a voting delegate such as difficulty reaching PTA President, 5 slots already taken or arbitrarily assigned, or PTA President missing deadline to sign delegates up on time; 3) "emergency" bylaws changes, later applied retroactively, coincidentally preventing one of the candidates running from the floor to be able to serve, if elected; 4) enforcement of delegate selection process for last-minute bylaws vote, even though website says it is being introduced because of the challenged elections; 5) denial of non-delegates from being allowed to speak at bylaws meeting; 6) financially punitive, free-speech-limiting non-disclosure agreements for volunteers to sign in order to appeal disqualifications that came about from these new bylaws changes; 7) lack of transparency in history/development of new standing rules that were used to guide delegate selection process; 8) lack of racial diversity in the slate of candidates nominated by the existing board, 9) lack of racial diversity in number of PTA members who turned out to vote (both groups reflected a population of approximately 8:1 white to non-white individuals in a district that is more than 50% non-white); 10) ballot manipulation tactics giving slate candidates an unfair advantage over candidates running from the floor; 11) undue influence on candidates running from the floor to run against one another instead of for positions they originally requested; and 12) refusal to accept the floor candidates' selection of individual to oversee vote count; and more.
We are compiling the feedback as we receive it, and a more detailed summary of the numerous inequities and questionable practices that were reported to Dear JCPS will soon be posted on our website. If you have additional supporting information you wish to have added to this list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you are a stakeholder in JCPS and also want to see a transparent, equitable and accessible election process for this and future 15th District PTA officer elections, please sign our petition. We encourage the 15th District PTA, Kentucky PTA and National PTA to take steps immediately to clearly define an election process that is consistent, well communicated, and fair -- and conducted with ample lead time and accessibility -- so our most marginalized communities can also participate. We want PTA to conduct a new election so that all members have an opportunity to weigh in on the officers who will lead the 15th District PTA for the 2019-2021 term.
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