Bylaws are a requirement to obtain 501(c)3 tax exempt status and represent the most important legal document of your PTA.
Each PTA has their own Bylaws which establish the mission, structure, policies, voting rights, membership dues and officer responsibilities of your PTA. Additionally, your unit’s bylaws link your PTA to the Hunt District, Virginia PTA and National PTA, each of which also operate according to their own bylaws.
It is critical that your bylaws be current, clearly written and an accurate representation of the way your local unit operates. If your unit is having trouble operating within your bylaws, you may consider amending your bylaws to meet your current needs. Your general membership is the ultimate governing body of your local PTA, so your general membership must be given 30 days notice before any vote that revises or amends your local unit bylaws.
Keep in mind, when the Virginia PTA and National PTA adopt amendments that impact local units, those amendments are considered to be automatic amendments to your Bylaws -- without you needing to take any further action!
PTA officers, committee chairpersons and members should all familiarize themselves with your local unit Bylaws and have access to a copy of them.
The Virginia PTA requires Local Units to review and approve their bylaws every five years. Doing so keeps you in "Good Standing", which allows the Virginia PTA to continue to include your unit under their 501(c)(3) nonprofit tax exempt status.
It's a good practice to allow about 90 days to complete your 5 Year Bylaws review so that you have adequate time for the Executive Board to review and approve the Bylaws and then provide your general membership with 30 days to review the bylaws before you vote to adopt them.
To get started, select a committee of at least 3 people. They don't need to be Officers of your PTA, however, it's a good idea to ensure you include some of your more experienced members because the Bylaws deal with how you actually run your organization.
Once you have formed your Committee and they have selected a Chair, visit the Virginia PTA website to get a Bylaws template (which you will modify to meet your local unit's needs), a Bylaws Review Checklist, Instructions for Bylaws Committee Chairpersons and Presidents as well as a Frequently Asked Questions. (website login may be required).
Local Unit Standing Rules - Should you have them?
|Bylaws establish the "Policies" that govern your PTA and are a requirement for every 501(c)(3). Standing Rules, however, are optional. Standing Rules are a supplement to your Bylaws that establish "Procedures" to describe who does what, when and how.
Standing Rules are entirely unique to your local unit and are able to be modified by the Executive Committee or General Membership (depending on who the 'rule' applies to) in a single meeting. Typically you would require a 2/3 majority vote if there was no advance notice of the change and a majority vote if there was advance notice of the change.
When drafting Standing Rules ensure that they do not conflict with your Bylaws and that you include a provision for how you can amend or revise your Standing Rules.