In the first statement sent to me, newly named PTA president Tyler Barr referred to Haygood’s departure as “mutual,” which met with immediate rebuke from dozens of PTA members and was never uttered again.
A second statement sent out by Barr said: “On Saturday, January 28, 2017, the Georgia PTA President, Lisa-Marie Haygood, was removed from the Board properly and in accordance with the Association’s bylaws and policies. Georgia PTA president-elect Tyler Barr automatically assumes the role of President of the Association and will serve as the official spokesperson on behalf of the 2015-17 Georgia PTA Board of Directors. We strongly disagree with any accusations of impropriety about the Board’s handling of affairs, and will defend ourselves vigorously.”
A new Facebook group, Ad Hoc Committee to Restore GA PTA, sprung up to challenge the board. In an irony noted on the new Facebook page, a few days after the board unseated Haygood, Georgia PTA won a National PTA award for its advocacy around the Opportunity School District proposal. As PTA president, Haygood led the fight, making 90 presentations about the risks of state takeover of schools. A self-described conservative who campaigned for Nathan Deal, Haygood became the face and voice of the OSD opposition.
Haygood herself has refrained from public comment, citing a confidentiality agreement. But others have leaped to her defense.
“With Lisa-Marie, the Georgia PTA was in the best position it has been in years to help influence education debate in the state and put parents back in the conversation because parents have been out of it for some time. Frankly, that’s gone,” said John Palmer, a teacher adviser to the board. Palmer was among those who resigned last week in protest.
Georgia PTA members have been pleading with the National PTA to intervene, but that appears unlikely based on the statement given to me: “National PTA is separately incorporated from our state PTAs and each has its own … nonprofit status. As such, we are not a ‘parent company’ that can intervene and correct perceived or real inequities except in restricted situations as directed by our membership and Board of Directors through our Bylaws and Standards of Affiliation. National PTA has been in communication with the past and current state leadership to assess whether this situation would meet those intervention standards.”
It’s difficult to understand how a volunteer organization that has done so much for kids could get tripped up by petty politics for what seem to be such low stakes.