Personal Statement by Cathy Pultz
The UAHS PTO and some people in the community demanded that I be removed from the PTO Board since I am a part of the Upper Arlington Education Coalition. Since the UAEC supports positions differing from the District, they felt it was a Conflict of Interest for me to be on the PTO Board. I was not called to discuss the issue.
Below is the email from the UAHS PTO Executive Board removing me from my position and following that is my response. I am putting this on the website for transparency.
As stated before, we would have been meeting about a conflict of interest between UAEC and the UAHS PTO. The goal was to talk in person to allow a discussion and not a one-way communication in email. It is unfortunate, but we will try to communicate clearly in this email.
The UA PTO is a respected body in our community. Parents and families trust the PTO as an organization and understand that we are here to support the school district and the students. We have a Support Organization Status with the school district and we are recognized by the Board of Education. As an Executive Board and governing body, we take this responsibility and expectation seriously. We must represent the PTO with honesty and integrity.
When notified of the UAEC website created on a Digital PTO platform (created for Parent-Teacher organizations) and informed of the menu across the top with links to all district PTOs, the request for an immediate removal from the site was made. It appeared that PTO groups were a part of the UAEC and endorsed the group’s mission and petition. You stated that it was a great point and promptly removed the page from view. However, it was not only seen by many people in the community but also mentioned on the UA discussion facebook forum, and multiple PTOs reached out with great concern over the implied connection. It was a misrepresentation of the UA PTO organization as a whole. The UAEC website lists two causes. One, the signage on school bathrooms, and two, that children should be in school 5 days a week. Both of these issues have been tied to lawsuits against the UA School District and the Board of Education. Neither of these issues support the school district policies and activities (which is the mission of the PTO and clearly stated in our code of regulations).
In addition, the PTO Board received two Whistleblower letters concerned about the unethical choice by an Executive Board Member to include the PTO organization on the website implying collaboration. One anonymous letter that asks the board to remove you from your PTO posts immediately. The member also included that if bylaws prevented us from handling it as a board, a formal request for a Special Meeting of the General Board to have a vote for removal should be called. The second letter was received with the same concerns and also addressed the district and PTO President’s Council. Should the PTOs ever lose their Support Organization Status it would be devastating to the organization. Our objectives state that the PTO is to work cooperatively with the school district and recognize the authority of school administration in controlling school policies and activities.
The UA High School PTO requires all board members to sign a Conflict of Interest form. This was signed on 8/9/20. This form was an agreement “to prevent the personal interest of volunteers from interfering with the performance of their duties to the PTO, or result in personal, financial, professional, or political gain on the part of such persons at the expense of the PTO or UAHS parents, staff, supporters and students.” The definition of a conflict per this document “means a conflict, or the appearance of a conflict between the private interests and official responsibilities of a person in a position of trust. Persons in a position of trust include Officers and Executive Board Members. The UAEC website used on a digital PTO platform and with links to the UA PTOs were in conflict of interest.
As a citizen and general PTO member, you are free to run any group or website page that you wish. However, the PTO organization may not be used to further any personal mission at the expense of trust in the PTO. After review and reflection, it is the opinion of the Board that this situation is a violation of trust and constitutes a conflict of interest.
The Board does not wish to call a Special Meeting with the full membership for a vote. It is the opinion that it would be an uneasy situation to put you, a friend, and fellow PTO member who has given years of service through. The Board believes, and has voted, that it is in the best interest of the PTO Organization to relieve you of your duties at this time. Please submit the website login information and any other PTO committee information you have by this Wednesday to an Executive Board Member.
The UAHS PTO Board
Cathy Pultz’s response:
Dear: (I am not including names)
It is a challenge to even know where to begin to address your email. I have known many of you for years and had considered you friends. Why didn’t you simply ask me to step aside? (emphasis added)
The precedence of removing an individual from the PTO Executive Board because she has a differing view than the School District will impact the PTO for years to come. It will be harder to recruit volunteers because they will feel that they may get removed for no cause. Will volunteers be asked to complete checklists of their opinions on School issues before being allowed to serve? Will the District get to choose PTO leaders?
It is stated that I was removed because the PTO must be trusted by families. Your simple action has violated that trust. Many families are shocked by this decision.
They wonder why this situation could not have been handled more professionally. The damage will last.
As a friend, I find it interesting that I am expected to be grateful that I was never afforded the opportunity to defend myself. Inviting me to a Zoom trial but denying me the right to know of what I was accused is not fair or just. I was not given the common courtesy of basic information to help me prepare. Now that I have seen the length of the accusations, I am certainly glad I did not attend the Zoom trial. I also wondered whether I would have been taped and then parts of it played on Facebook.
Since you mentioned the Upper Arlington Discussion Forum, I believe my concern was well-founded. The UADF is a cesspool, and you are treating it as a legitimate organization. I am astounded that I am being compared to and judged by the Upper Arlington Discussion Forum. Since when does the UAHS PTO take its marching orders from a Facebook group? It is more than a bit disturbing.
I am not on Social Media, but people send me screenshots of the name-calling, vitriol and threats. They are truly cowards. If you cannot win an argument on merit, call someone names. Deflect from the real issue of choice and integrity and threaten them. Silence them. I’ve been mocked and ridiculed on this sight, but I will not be silenced by them or by the Executive Board.
I have been informed that some individuals on these forums have gone to businesses to get people fired. I didn’t truly believe it until I became the target. I am blessed to be a stay-at-home Mom, so they can’t get me fired. How can these bullies try to “punish” me for my stand about following the law? Remove Cathy from the PTO Exec Board.
Yes, I am pushing back against the powerful and the entitled. The first rule of fighting is to belittle and demean. Fortunately, that has never bothered me. I don’t let others define me.
The term “Whistleblower” gives the impression that someone is doing something wrong. The only wrongdoing in this scenario is that the UA School Board is violating the code and our city is not enforcing it.
There is nothing secret about the Upper Arlington Education Coalition website. Why does anyone need to complain anonymously? I am surprised that an anonymous individual takes credence over being courteous to me. I put my name on everything. I stand up to bullies. There are no whistleblowers. These are just people with opinions.
The Upper Arlington Education Coalition is a new group designed to Advocate for Children and to connect Community members to issues impacting the schools. The website has links to many school activities. I included the PTO links, and as soon as you emailed me Megan I took them down. I understood your concern. I will not even address the ludicrous notion that because digitalptois the platform for the website that it implies PTO support.
The petition on the website disagrees with the School District. If you are contending that anyone disagreeing with the District has a Conflict of Interest with the PTO, then some of you on this Board will need to resign. (emphasis added)
(In my response I list Board members and their conflicts, but it is not necessary to put their names on the website.)
The blatant hypocrisy of accusing me of a Conflict of Interest but not the others on the Board would be laughable if it weren’t so sad.
Diversity is preached by DEI and this PTO Board, but I find it interesting that if you do not believe what the powerful say you will be punished. Diversity of thought is not permitted. It feels intentionally exclusive.
I have been a part of the PTO for so many years because I am passionate about our Community, especially the students in our schools. I am always doing everything I can to be a voice for the kids. I will continue to do that.
Every tribulation has a silver lining, and as I pondered being removed from the PTO Board I made a list of all of my PTO activities. (see below) Reminiscing about all the fun things I have done with our kids gave me great joy. You cannot beat Greensview and those amazing Moms.
I often tell my kids that the best thing about PTO has been the opportunity to meet incredibly genuine people that I would not otherwise know because our kids did not run in the same circles. The PTO Board showed such care and concern for me after my cancer surgery, and they will always be in my heart. That is what I will remember after 15 years of PTO. The bullying of a few won’t tarnish my memories.
It also won’t silence me.
Cathy Pultz’s PTO Positions & Committee Chairs
Greensview: PTO Co-President, Secretary
Created: PTO Website
Co-Created: 100% Profit Fundraiser, Walk for Greensview
Co-Founder: Greensview Field Day
Fifth Grade Activities
Served on many Committees: Directory, Walking Club, Fall Family
Fun Night, Room Parent, to name a few
Hastings: PTOPresident UAHS:PTO President
Created:PTO Website PTO Website
Eighth Grade DVD Science Fair
School Supply Sale Hospitality
No Fundraiser Fundraiser Secrets of a UA Parent
Ice Cream Social Shred it Day
Assisted many committees Helped with CeleBEARTY Wait Night
UAHS: Building Committee Parent Representative