The Florida Parent Teacher Association (PTA) temporarily suspended the operations of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) on Monday in order to conduct an audit of the association’s finances, according to a news release.
The audit requires the parent-led group hand in financial records and meeting minutes for the past two school years to Broward’s PTA/PTSA. It will also stop meeting for the next 60 days.
While Florida PTA President Cindy Gerhardt said the audit is a summer-time standard procedure, the news comes after the incoming PTA leaders inquired about transitioning to a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). Operating as PTO would make the group independent, allowing them to operate under their own bylaws.
Max Schachter, a member of the MSD Public Safety Commission and father of Alex Schachter, who was killed in the shooting, condemned the suspension on Twitter, calling out President Cindy Gerhardt directly.
Florida PTA president @cindybell66 Why did you suspend the Marjory Stoneman Douglas PTA and take all the money our community raised to make our school safe? We demand to know the facts. The current PTA president knows of no investigation. Very wrong!
— Max Schachter (@maxschachter) June 18, 2018
Florida PTA President Cindy Gerhardt could not be reached for comment but sent an email statement to WLRN.
"There were lots of questions raised as to when, how, who, etc., should facilitate the audit. There were also varying opinions from outgoing and incoming leaders, unsure how to interpret their bylaws and standing rules and who was responsible for the plethora of decisions that were being made over the summer," Gerhardt wrote.
Gerhardt went on to clarify that the Florida PTA was asked to assist the local unit by outgoing and incoming leaders, who also reached out to the Broward County Council PTA for help.
“Both Florida PTA and Broward County Council PTA have provided guidance and advice to the parents at MSD since the morning of the tragedy, to help with the overwhelming management of the outpouring of donations, while always remembering that these parents are volunteers, as are most of us, who never expected this weight to be placed on them,” Gerhardt wrote in the statement.
Gerhardt also said any donations received while the audit is being performed will be accounted for during the pause, but inaccessible until the audit is complete.