A Parent Association (PA) or Parent Teacher Association (PTA) is the official organization of the parent body in a school. Every New York City public school is required by the State Education Law and the DOE’s Chancellor’s Regulations to have one, and all parents of children -- including step-parents, legally appointed guardians, foster parents and persons in parental relation -- are automatically members of their school’s PA/PTA. Because of their guaranteed rights and responsibilities, PA/PTAs can be the most direct vehicle for parent involvement in the schools, allowing parents to serve as partners both in their children’s educations and in the schools themselves.
A PA/PTA is established after elections are held and bylaws are drafted and adopted by a vote of parents (see Establishing a PA/PTA page). A PA becomes a PTA if parents vote to include school staff members. Parent members of a PTA may vote to revert back to a PA. A PTA may amend its bylaws to extend membership to other categories of staff (paraprofessionals, school aids, school secretaries, for example) but school supervisory staff (such as principals or assistant principals) may not be members of the PTA in the school in which they are employed.
A PA/PTA is a self-governing organization: it is responsible for its own actions and affairs and cannot be run by the principal or other school officials. Each PA/PTA adopts its own bylaws, elects officers to function as the PA/PTA’s administration, and holds regular meetings with its membership. Although it must abide by the rules outlined in the Chancellor’s Regulation A-660 (CR A-660), it otherwise decides on its own goals and priorities. In other words: your PA/PTA is what you make of it.
The PTA’s executive board runs the organization; it also serves as the parents’ voice and agent for action. Parents elect board officers (the president, treasurer, recording secretary, at a minimum) to represent their interests and act on their behalf, and the board must consult with them regularly and hold votes on important issues and decisions. CR A-660 is clear that a PA/PTA’s board must be inclusive of the entire parent body, and is responsible for encouraging and facilitating parental involvement.
Through PA/PTAs parents can become active, effective participants in their children’s schools, and in the educational system generally. For example, PA/PTAs can empower parents to:
- organize, and take action on issues
- provide input on school policies
- advocate for their children
- partner with school administration and staff
- collaborate with community members and elected officials
PA/PTAs can support students’ educations directly by:
- educating parents about school curricula, school rules and procedures
- providing opportunities for parents to become involved in classroom and out-of-classroom activities
- participating in decision-making on the School Leadership Team (see SLT page)
- sponsoring numerous enrichment programs and activities
- running after-school programs
- fostering cooperative relationships between school staff and parents
- raising funds to supplement the schools’ budgets
PA/PTAs also can join forces with other schools’ parent organizations, both to share information and learn from each other, and to work on broad issues that involve multiple schools throughout the system. These collaborations can occur at the district and citywide levels. (See Presidents’ Council, CPAC, and Advocacy pages).
To get involved with your school’s PA/PTA, contact the parent coordinator or principal if you cannot locate members of the PA/PTA board.