- The Washington Times - Friday, May 23, 2003

The National PTA has placed the D.C. chapter on probation because of serious financial management problems, including failure to meet mandatory auditing requirements. It’s bad news to needy parents who depend on the PTA voice in the troubled D.C. school system. It seemingly also signals a warning shot to the D.C. Democratic Party, because the president of the D.C. PTA and the treasurer of the D.C. Democratic Party are one and the same.

Linda Hilliard Moody failed to file timely records with the national office, and was first notified of the problem in June 2002, according to a letter from National PTA President Shirley Igo to Mrs. Moody. The letter, a copy of which has been obtained by editors of this page, states the length of the probation (“one year beginning May 1”), details the D.C. PTA’s specific mismanagement problems, the consequences facing the D.C. PTA, (including the loss of money and other resources from the national office) and outlines requirements for possible reinstatement. If the problems are not addressed, recommendations could include revoking the D.C. PTA’s charter.

This is disappointing news to parents and teachers, who have been struggling for years to bolster parental involvement, a cog in the wheel of education. While Mrs. Moody talks about the PTA gaining entry into eight new schools, she fails to mention that she “lost 15,” Jackie Pinckney-Hackett, president of the Jefferson Junior High PTA and a supporter of vouchers, told us yesterday. And, its voice is hardly effective, she added, pointing out that in a public school system with about 67,000, the D.C. PTA membership is a paltry 4,500. Some voice.

Counting and adhering to deadlines apparently are not Mrs. Moody’s strong suits. Besides the bookkeeping problems cited by the National PTA, there are local concerns about how Mrs. Moody handles the D.C. PTA’s Shoe and Rubber Fund, which helps needy children. Also, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which handles the popular Race the Cure fund-raiser, questioned the use of a $75,000 grant it gave in 2001 to the Greater Southeast Community Hospital Auxiliary, of which Mrs. Moody is president. The money was intended to heighten breast cancer awareness among needy women. Meanwhile, the hospital, which has its own serious financial troubles, was in a dispute with Mrs. Moody over a $20,000 bill stemming from the auxiliary’s management of the hospital gift shop.

Mrs. Moody became treasurer of the D.C. Dems after her predecessor became embroiled in allegations of mismanagement with the Washington Teachers Union. A Ward 8 resident and former member of the school board, Mrs. Moody opposes vouchers, even those publicly funded to help needy children.

People in this city were shocked to learn about the millions of dollars in theft allegations surrounding the teachers union scandal. To now learn that the membership dues many parents have to scrape together to join the PTA are being mismanaged is downright offensive. Political disagreements aside, no wonder entire schools are opting out of the PTA altogether. D.C. Public Schools and its students, parents and teachers — particularly its schoolchildren — deserve a strong and effective voice in its PTA. With its membership in decline and its president now embattled, Mrs. Moody should take the moral high road and step aside.

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