National PTA Statement on Proposed Memo by HHS’s Strict Definition of Gender for Title IX

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Oct.23, 2018)—National PTA® is concerned by recent media reports by the New York Times, Politico and more that the administration is considering a proposal to redefine sex under Title IX as strictly male or female. National PTA is committed to defending the rights of all children and youth, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. National PTA strongly urges the administration to refrain from releasing any rule that would change the definition of gender to the biological sex assigned at birth.

National PTA stands behind its resolution on the Recognition of LGBTQ Individuals as a Protected Class. National PTA and its constituent associations will continue advocate for legislation that explicitly recognizes LGBTQ as a protected group and addresses discrimination based upon sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. The association will also seek to ensure educators have the training to support all students and that health education standards appropriately address the issues of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.}

“The protection of our students—regardless of their gender identity and gender expression—is a matter we do not take lightly,” said Jim Accomando, president of National PTA. “All students deserve to attend schools that are safe, supportive and accepting environments free from discrimination. We continue to do the work that not only protects our children and youth, but educates parents, families, educators and community members on how to handle discrimination.”

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit PTA.org.


National PTA Statement on Hurricane Michael

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Oct. 15, 2018)—National PTA President Jim Accomando issued the following statement regarding Hurricane Michael:

“National PTA’s hearts and minds are with the communities affected by Hurricane Michael—in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and the Carolinas—as they recover from the storm’s destruction. Many families and schools have been affected by this tragedy and we empathize with those who are experiencing loss of property, safety, routines and loved ones.

“As the nation’s and state’s oldest and largest child advocacy association, it is our duty to support families and school communities as they rebuild and recover. We remain committed to doing everything we can to assist in the restoration of learning environments and emotional support for students and families.

“National PTA offers resources to help families and educators have conversations with children to help them deal with the fear, confusion, sadness and anger they may feel after incidents like Hurricane Michael. These resources and other tips are available at PTA.org.

“The Disaster Relief Fund was established by National PTA to help with disaster assistance and respond to tragedies that grievously disrupt a school or education system. We encourage PTAs and schools impacted by Hurricane Michael to apply for support from the fund. We also urge everyone to donate to the fund to help support PTAs and schools deemed not safe because of the damage.

“PTA members work hard every day to give our children, families and school communities what they need to thrive. Following this type of tragedy, our mission becomes that much more important. We know we can count on our PTA members across the country to help meet the needs caused by Hurricane Michael.”

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit PTA.org.

LaWanda Toney
Director of Strategic Communications
ltoney@pta.org
703-518-1237


Special Education PTA – Growth in Missouri

Three months ago, I had never heard of Special Education PTAs, but I clearly remember the day that I did.  It was June 15, 2018, and I was in a meeting for Missouri Disability Empowerment, when one person asked if we had heard of a Special Education PTA (SEPTA).  I perked up, and questioned further.  As I learned about what SEPTAs in other states do, I felt hope at the possibility of finding other parents that often feel isolated and are embarking on a journey that only another parent of a special needs child can understand.

Being a mom of three children, two of whom have special needs, I have often struggled with feeling isolated because many things that are taken for granted by most families can be so difficult, such as going to a grocery store, having a meal at a restaurant, or going to the park.  In addition, the relationship between parent and school has a different aspect when IEPs and 504s are involved.  Special needs parents and teachers become members of an entire world of evaluations, meetings, therapies, and mountain of special education acronyms, which the majority of teachers and parents do not experience.

I still remember my very first Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting for my son, which took place eleven years ago.  Everyone was very friendly and helpful in guiding us through this process; however, I felt like they were speaking a foreign language.  There were numerous acronyms, forms, and decisions being made that I truly knew nothing about.  After that meeting, I spent hours researching and becoming educated on this process, so I was more prepared to be involved at the next IEP meeting.

There are many parents of special needs kids at different stages of the special education process in a school district who can be a great benefit to each other.  There is no reason that every parent new to special education, or at a transition point, needs to start from scratch.  There should be a resource for parents and teachers to come together to guide and support each other through the process, which is where the Special Education PTA can be invaluable.

School specific PTAs do an amazing job of supporting the school and children through various methods such as field trips, classroom supplies, classroom parties, fun fairs, etc.  Oftentimes, the special education areas are overlooked, or are not a priority, as these students are typically a small percentage of the total school population.  Even the events that are billed as being for the entire school are often overwhelming to many special needs children, so these events are avoided, or if attempted to attend might end with a negative experience or meltdown.  When a school specific PTA and Special Education PTA work together, amazing opportunities and experiences for all children can happen.

The experience of creating a Special Education Parent Teacher Association has been a wonderful and exciting experience, thanks to the help of Mary Flatt and other members of the Missouri PTA.  There is a fair amount of administrative work on my end; however, the Missouri PTA’s packet walked me through the steps, and Mary spent many afternoons giving me guidance on how to start.  In our area, we are also very lucky to have a Columbia Council PTA, which has also been very helpful and supportive.  The trainings I have attended have been very informative and respectful of our time.  Rosa Parks, the Columbia Council PTA president, also has a wealth of knowledge and much needed advice about getting started.

I was very nervous when the moment of truth arrived – the organizational meeting.  To become an official PTA, ten people need to attend and become charter members, but I was thrilled that over thirty people attended.  After two months of mainly word-of-mouth and social media advertising, the Columbia SEPTA has grown to fifty-one members.

We have so many ideas that we want to accomplish, resources to share, and support to give to anyone with an interest in special needs.  People within the group are stepping forward and taking on roles that help SEPTA grow.  Erin Keith, Communications Chair, has been invaluable in setting up a website with online memberships, preparing flyers, and coordinating Facebook and Twitter communications with our members.  These items are so important in this day and age.  The main challenge right now is being realistic about what we can accomplish in the first year, and what we need to take longer to plan as well as working to develop a great relationship with the school.

The Columbia SEPTA, for me, was truly a ray of light that I needed.  The journey has been fun and filled with ups and downs.  The mom doubt crept in, but the other parents are there to offer support and offer guidance.  It is so refreshing to have plans for events that include our kids, and take their needs into account.  This would not have been possible without the support of Missouri PTA.


National PTA and North Carolina PTA Stand with Families, Schools and Communities Impacted by Hurricane Florence

ALEXANDRIA, Va., (Sept. 19, 2018)—National PTA President Jim Accomando and North Carolina PTA President Virginia Jicha issued the following statement regarding Hurricane Florence:

“Families, schools and communities across North Carolina have been profoundly impacted by flooding, wind damage and power outages from Hurricane Florence. National PTA and North Carolina PTA join the nation in concern for the safety and well-being of those impacted by this powerful storm. Our thoughts and hearts go out to everyone affected.

“As the nation’s and state’s oldest and largest child advocacy association, it is our duty to support families and school communities in their efforts to rebuild and recover. We are committed to doing everything we can to assist those affected and help restore learning environments as quickly as possible.

“PTA offers tips to help families and educators have conversations with children when incidents like Hurricane Florence occur to help them deal with emotions of fear, confusion, sadness and anger. The tips can be accessed at PTA.org.

“PTA has also established a Disaster Relief Fund to respond to tragedies that grievously disrupt a school or education system. National PTA and North Carolina PTA encourage PTAs and schools impacted by Hurricane Florence to apply for support from the fund. We also urge everyone to donate to the fund to help support PTAs and schools in need.

“PTA members work hard every day to give our children, families and school communities what they need to thrive. Following this type of tragedy, our mission becomes that much more important. We know we can count on our PTA members across the country to help meet the needs caused by Hurricane Florence.”

About National PTA

National PTA® comprises millions of families, students, teachers, administrators, and business and community leaders devoted to the educational success of children and the promotion of family engagement in schools. PTA is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit association that prides itself on being a powerful voice for all children, a relevant resource for families and communities, and a strong advocate for public education. Membership in PTA is open to anyone who wants to be involved and make a difference for the education, health, and welfare of children and youth. For more information, visit PTA.org.

About North Carolina PTA
North Carolina PTA is the state’s oldest and largest volunteer organization advocating for the education, health, safety and success of all children and youth while building strong families and communities. PTAs across North Carolina impact more than 685,000 children and their families. For more information, visit NCPTA.org.

Media Contacts
Heidi May Wilson, National PTA
hmay@pta.org, (703) 518-1242

Virginia Jicha, North Carolina PTA
virginia@ncpta.org, (919) 787-0534