Virginia PTA reinstates ousted members, puts Thomas Jefferson High PTSA on probation

The Virginia PTA reinstated elected or appointed board members who resigned from or were voted out of the parent teacher student association of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County.

After the Thomas Jefferson High School’s parent teacher student association (TJHSST PTSA) voted 3-1 last week to remove Bonnie Qin, WTOP has learned that Virginia PTA has reinstated Qin and other members who resigned or were voted out, and placed the organization in a probation phase.

“Members of TJHSST PTSA who contacted us expressed ongoing distrust in TJHSST PTSA leadership and demanded action of Virginia PTA and provided two (2) petitions, in addition to email communications; Save the TJPTSA and Urge the entire TJPTSA Executive Board to resign,” Virginia PTA said in a letter to PTSA members.

Virginia PTA said that while it believes there is cause to revoke the charter for the TJHSST PTSA, “we would prefer to work with TJHSST PTSA leadership to repair the damage done. We have decided to move TJHSST PTSA into the Probation Phase of Non-Compliance.”

During the probationary period, Virginia PTA wants the TJHSST PTSA not to fill a position or remove any board members without the state PTA’s approval.

“Any elected or appointed board members who have been removed or resigned within the last 14 days must be reinstated by July 31, 2021.”

Among the actions the Virginia PTA requires:

  • The TJHSST PTSA executive committee must develop a plan in consultation with a support team assigned by the Virginia PTA and submit it by Aug. 20.
  • Virginia PTA also wants the group to have communications with the membership and to address members’ concerns by Aug 1.
  • TJHSST PTSA members will sign a conflict of interest form and provide the signed document to the support team by July 31.
  • Have a process in place to provide notice of all special meetings by Aug. 20.
  • Create a procedure that ensures that special meetings are in compliance with parliamentary authority.
  • Create a process that ensures board members have an opportunity to review meeting materials ahead of meetings.
  • Obtain the services of a certified parliamentarian.

In addition, at least two members of the support team have to be present at all regular and special executive committee, executive board and general membership meetings, and that members of the support team should have a voice.

“Virginia PTA strongly recommends that TJHSST PTA’s executive committee and executive board members heed the support team’s guidance to avoid revocation,” the letter said.

Last Friday, the TJHSST PTSA’s executive committee voted to remove Qin after week of heated public discourse and bitter allegations, InsideNoVa reported.

You can read the details of the vote and what led to it from WTOP’s news partner InsideNoVa.

Yvette Rivers, a member of the Thomas Jefferson High School PTSA, told WTOP that Qin was sent a letter informing her of the decision but no one who is a member of the PTSA has been officially informed of it.

Over the last year, there has been debate over changes to the magnet school’s admissions process among the school community, as well as how teaching about racism should be included in the curriculum.

Rivers said that in April, a group of students gave a school-wide presentation on systemic racism, and a few TJHSST PTSA leaders were so upset by it that they called for Principal Dr. Ann Bonitatibus to resign.

WTOP’s Kyle Cooper contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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