Your PA/PTA’s executive board functions as a representative of the entire parent body. To fulfill this responsibility and be as effective as possible, the board needs to maintain constant, open communication with all members. Good communication ensures that members are aware of: issues facing the PA/PTA; opportunities to participate in decision making and planning; programs, activities and events that they and their children can take advantage of; and how they can become involved.
CR A-660 contains specific requirements regarding the executive board’s communication with the membership, including:
- The PA/PTA president is responsible for relaying information discussed at SLT meetings to the PA/PTA membership.
- The executive board must notify the membership of general membership meetings, executive board meetings, and election meetings at least 10 calendar days in advance.
- The executive board is responsible for ensuring that meeting notifications are sent in a way designed to reach all parents and should use the DOE’s meeting notice template which contains text in several languages.
- Whenever possible, bylaws should be made available in all languages spoken by the parents in the school.
- The executive board must make a list PA/PTA officers including contact information available to the membership.
- All materials to parents (posted in the school or on the website, sent home with students, etc.) must be shown to the principal for approval, to ensure they do not contain anything unsuitable or inappropriate.
- All parent contact information must be used only for legitimate PA/PTA purposes and not for personal communication.
The regulation also includes some provisions to facilitate the executive board’s communication with the membership. For example:
- PA/PTAs have the right to post written material in places in the school designated by the principal.
- PA/PTAs have the right to post meeting notices on the school website (and may request permission from the principal to post additional information).
- PA/PTAs may request assistance from the principal to facilitate a mailing to parents, but the school may not give the PA/PTA names, addresses, or any other contact information of students or parents without the parents’ written consent.
The following are the common modes of communication with PA/PTA members:
At PA/PTA general membership meetings, the executive board shares information related to the PA/PTA’s affairs and important happenings at the school, as well as relevant district and citywide issues. See the Meetings page.
Many elementary school PA/PTAs also print notices or flyers to send home to parents in their children’s backpacks. These papers can be handed to the children, or placed in folders (e.g., homework folders) or envelopes that are going home for other reasons.
CR A-660 requires that certain information be communicated to the membership in writing, e.g., notices of monthly general membership meetings, election notices, notifications of board vacancies, and notices of executive board meetings.
Many PA/PTAs print posters and display them on school bulletin boards, indoor and outdoor walls, doors, etc. Posters advertise anything from upcoming events, to the need for volunteers and fundraising drives.
For these and other printing purposes, PA/PTAs are sometimes able to negotiate reduced rates from local copy shops. (Tip: Although some businesses are automatically willing to support their local schools, you can encourage any business further by promising to thank them in writing in school publications.)
School or PA/PTA Website
While every school is given a website through the DOE, some PA/PTAs create additional school websites and include a section for the PA/PTA. Others build their own PA/PTA websites and use them to communicate with the parents instead of the school's official website. For information on building a PA/PTA website, go to the link below.
According to CR A-660, PA/PTAs may not obtain a list of parents’ contact information from the school. However, contacting parents via email is not prohibited per se, and teacher and staff involvement can be helpful. That said, the executive board must ensure that all contact information is safeguarded from disclosure and is used only for legitimate, official PA/PTA purposes, and not for personal communications.
- Some PA/PTAs assemble a voluntary general email list by enlisting the assistance of teachers, parent coordinators or the principal. Staff forward an email to all parents from the PA/PTA executive board asking parents to reply to the designated PA/PTA email address if they would like to be included on email notices from the executive board.
- Some PA/PTA boards communicate with their membership via listservs. They often request that the administration or teachers send an email to parents on behalf of the PA/PTA asking that they sign up for a PA/PTA listserv. An example of language in this notice might be: To find out what’s happening with the PA/PTA, sign up to join the PA/PTA Listserv by going to groups.google.com/group/xxxxx and select the link to “apply for group membership” on the right sidebar. (You do not need a gmail account to join.)
- Other PA/PTA boards have volunteer “PA/PTA liaisons” in each class. In these cases, the PA/PTA board sends emails to the PA/PTA liaisons who then forward the emails to their class email list. The class email list is compiled by the teacher or class parent at the beginning of the year, with parents given the option of being included.
PA/PTAs also use social media to share news about events and provide updates. For examples, see NEST+m PTA’s Facebook page, PS 121Q PTA’s Facebook page and PS 8K PTA’s Twitter page. Establishing social media guidelines or policies can help ensure that your school community is in agreement about the most useful and appropriate way for your PA/PTA to use social media. See the sample Facebook guidelines document below.
Some PA/PTAs still send certain information home through the mail (in those instances when parents have allowed the principal — or teacher — to share their contact information). In many schools, email is a more efficient and effective mode of communication. It is up to your PA/PTA to determine whether paper mail is the best way to reach parents in certain situations.
Some PA/PTA boards use surveys to learn about their families' interests and needs, and to help set goals for the year. The Sample Needs Assessment Survey below can be adapted to suit your school's needs and PA/PTA's capacity.