- The Washington Times - Monday, July 2, 2001

Prince George's County has installed a new Parent-Teacher Association and presented strict guidelines to ensure that officeholders do not repeat the mistakes that caused the previous PTA to be dissolved.
The Prince George's County Council of PTAs was dissolved in October after several members complained to the state PTA about bylaw violations and financial irregularities, such as unauthorized payments to staff members, reimbursements, missing receipts, nonpayment of taxes and a lack of detailed monthly reports.
The situation got so bad that the state PTA had to ask the chapter's president, Minerva Sanders, to resign. When she did not do so, the state dissolved the chapter.
The situation in Prince George's County had been "something unusual," said Rita Lowman, vice president for councils in the Maryland PTA who acted as adviser to a committee set up to formulate new bylaws for the Prince George's chapter.
The Washington Times first reported in April that the state PTA was calling in for nominations for the new county chapter. Named as new president of the Prince George's chapter was Judy Mickens-Murray, a parent activist who is involved in the PTA at Central High School in Capitol Heights. Howard Tutman, president of the Woodmore Elementary PTA in Mitchellville, was named vice president.
Other officeholders are Carol Betts, vice president for membership; Helen Hassell, vice president for leadership; Rick Tyler, vice president for legislation; Corrine Patt, secretary; and Walter George, treasurer.
The new PTA officeholders were announced at a special meeting on June 6 where 10 county PTAs participated.
The state will review the new county bylaws, and this time around, state PTA members will monitor each meeting of the Prince George's chapter for at least the first two months to ensure that things run smoothly, Mrs. Lowman said yesterday. But some PTA activists in the county think the state should not pull out immediately after setting up the county chapter. Mrs. Lowman said yesterday that would not happen. "There will be ongoing training until they feel comfortable," she said.
The training, which will include instructions on how to be a board member and the fiduciary responsibilities, among other things, would start this month, she said.
Mrs. Mickens-Murray and Mr. Tutman were not available for comment yesterday, but in an earlier interview Mr. Tutman told The Times he was "optimistic" that the PTA would make it this time round because it had a good "core group" and because the number of PTAs was increasing, raising the need for a county chapter.
At the June 6 meeting, new bylaws formulated by the special committee make it mandatory for members to have some experience working as an officeholder with a PTA in the county, said Dorothy Stuckey, who headed a three-member council set up in May to find officeholders for the new PTA.

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