Principles of parliamentary law are
… justice and courtesy to all;
… rights of the minority protected;
… rule of the majority reflected;
… partiality to none;
… consideration of one subject at a time.
The bylaws are specific rules by which the unit is governed, and they supersede any general rule of parliamentary law with which they may be in conflict. They are the “Articles of Organization.” They may not be suspended, even by a unanimous vote. Any action contrary to the unit’s bylaws is null and void and should be so stated when discovered.
The bylaws of the unit, council, district, State and National PTA state that Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised shall be the parliamentary authority. For help in understanding or interpreting “Robert’s” or the bylaws, contact the council, if in council, or district PTA parliamentarian.
The parliamentarian is an officer usually appointed by the president, subject to ratification by the executive board. A parliamentarian “pro tem” should be appointed in the absence of the parliamentarian. “Pro tem” means “for this time only.”
Duties of the parliamentarian are listed in the bylaws (Article VI, Section 10). Additional information can be found in the California State PTA Toolkit “Running Your PTA” chapter, the National PTA Quick-Reference Guide (available from your PTA President) and Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (or IN BRIEF), latest edition.
Review and study the bylaws and standing rules annually. If changes are required, ask the president to appoint a committee for this review. Proposed amendments are approved by the executive board, then submitted through council (if in council) and district PTA channels to the state parliamentarian for approval prior to adoption at an association meeting.
Use the latest version of Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units or the free California State PTA e-Bylaws system for units at cata.org. The publication date, noted on the front cover, should not be more than two (2) years old. Instructions and procedures are included. Obtain bylaws from the California State PTA Store. Some district PTA offices have copies for sale.
Verify the PTA council (if in council) and district PTA have a current copy of the unit’s bylaws.
Ensure each member of the executive board has a current copy of the unit’s bylaws and standing rules. Any member is entitled to a copy upon request.
Become familiar with the unit’s copy of Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised (or IN BRIEF), latest edition.
Provide the members and the executive board with training on simple parliamentary procedures; how to state a motion, rules of debate, quorums.
Assist the president in meeting preparation, when requested.
Advise presiding officer, when requested, on questions of parliamentary procedure. Parliamentarians do not “rule.” Only the chair has the power to rule on a question of order. If the parliamentarian has expressed an opinion at the request of the chair, the chair must still make the ruling.
Assist the presiding officer by keeping track of the order of those wishing to speak, motions, amendments, voting, etc., during meetings.
Encourage attendance at trainings on parliamentary procedures and/or bylaw workshops when offered by the California State PTA, district PTA or council (if in council).
As a part of the national organization, the local PTA is governed by the National PTA, as well as the bylaws of the California State PTA, district PTA and the council (if in council). California State PTA bylaws contain “starred” articles and sections which must be included in the local association bylaws.
Note: The adoption of an amendment to any provision of the California Corporations Code, identified by a double star, or to any provision of the California State PTA bylaws, identified by a triple star, automatically amends the PTA’s bylaws and does not require a vote of the unit, council or district.
Other revisions to the bylaws may be made only as provided in the bylaws themselves (Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units, Article XVI; Council Bylaws, Article XVII; District Bylaws, Article XVIII).
Policies and Procedures
Basic policies of the National PTA are included in all PTA bylaws as Article III. Parliamentarians often are asked to interpret these policies or give a rationale for them. The council, district and California State PTA also have policies and procedures which must be observed.
The bylaws include, as a duty of the parliamentarian “…shall call the first meeting of the nominating committee…and give instructions in procedure…” These instructions include the eligibility requirements to hold office, the offices to be filled, those sections of the bylaws which pertain to the conduct of the nominating committee, committee voting procedure, etc. The parliamentarian
- conducts the election of the chairman of the nominating committee.
- does not automatically serve as a member of the committee, unless elected to it or unless the bylaws so provide.
- if not a member of this committee, should be available for any questions by telephone or at a specific location.
Check bylaws for:
Quorum for executive board meeting ____________________ (Article VIII, Section 7b)
Quorum for association meeting ____________________ (Article VII, Section 5b)
Date of last amendment to bylaws ____________________ (Article XVI, signature page)
Date new officers assume duties ____________________ (Article V, Section 8)
Date to elect nominating committee ____________________ (Article V, Section 3b)
Date of officer election meeting ____________________ (Article V, Section 3g)
Date to elect convention delegates ____________________ (Article V, Section 9)
Date to election council delegates, if any ____________________ (Article X, Section 2)
California State PTA ID# ____________________
National PTA ID# ____________________
Federal Employee Identification Number (EIN) ____________________
Franchise Tax Board Number (FTB) ____________________
Charitable Trust Number (CT) ____________________
Corporation Number, if any ____________________
Fiscal year _____________ to _____________
Council Parliamentarian (if in council)
In addition, the council parliamentarian shall:
- Remind units to use the latest version of Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units.
- Receive, review and assist with member unit proposed bylaw changes and keep records thereof. Forward proposed changes to the district PTA parliamentarian promptly, within one to two weeks.
- Maintain a file of up-to-date bylaws for all member units within the council.
- Offer bylaws and parliamentary procedure workshops for all units within the council PTA.
District PTA Parliamentarian
In addition, the district parliamentarian shall:
- Remind units and councils to use the latest bylaws.
- Maintain a file of up-to-date bylaws for member units and councils within the district PTA.
- Receive, review and assist with proposed unit and council bylaw changes, and keep records thereof. Promptly forward proposed changes to state PTA parliamentarian. Return signed bylaws promptly.
- Maintain an up-to-date file of the district PTA’s member unit and council numbers: California State PTA identification, National PTA identification, employer identification (EIN), Franchise Tax Board (FTB), Charitable Trust (CT) and, when appropriate, corporation number and or seller’s permit number.
- Offer bylaws and parliamentary procedure workshops for units and councils within the district PTA.
From the unit, council or district president or capta.org:
- California State PTA Toolkit (includes California State PTA Bylaws, policies, parliamentary guides)
- Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units, Council Bylaws, District Bylaws
From the California State PTA office:
- Leadership Pocket Pal
- Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, latest edition
- Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, IN BRIEF
- The a-b-c’s of Parliamentary Procedure