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Miller-Driscoll PTA Removals Went By the Book

Minutes released by a newly-staffed Miller-Driscoll PTA shed light onto last month's most talked about Wilton controversy.

Over a month has passed since the of two (MD) Parent Teacher Association (PTA) presidents during one of the most Wilton PTA meetings to date. Recently, perhaps in a nod to transparency and moving forward, the MD PTA released the official minutes from this meeting. Being private organizations, PTAs are under no actual obligation to release its inner workings to the public.

Thirty-seven people—not including three members from the Conn. Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA)—attended the in question, which occurred on Feb. 13 2012 at 9:30 a.m. in the MD cafeteria. Apparently that meeting’s agenda was changed after an apparently unrelated opening statement from MD Principal Sheelah Brown concerning regular PTA concerns.

New additions to the agenda, motioned by Wilton PTA President Heather Wilcaukas and seconded by PTA President Tiffany Tecce, included reviewing of a Feb. 10 2012 letter from then-MD PTA president David Crays, as well as the “removal of PTA officers” and “election of new officers.” The new agenda items were added to the regularly-scheduled agenda; the motion passed with a majority vote, with five dissenters. These five dissenters are not named, and it is not clear how many persons voted.

Since these items were added, they were to be addressed after the initial agenda had been discussed. After what was most likely a tense discussion of business as usual, and as the new agenda items came under review, the minutes indicate that Brown “made a motion” to strike the removal of PTA officers item from the agenda.

The minutes appear to paraphrase Brown: “The administration is shocked and is in full support of the current PTA. The PTA should be unified just the way things are unified at the school,” the minutes state.

The question passed with Wilcaukas’ and Tecce’s support, but the actual motion to remove the agenda item from the record failed. After this, now half an hour into the discussion, “administration and teacher representatives left the meeting.” It is not clear how many persons remained.

Ultimately, both Robert Burkhart, then-vice president, and Crays were removed from their positions on two separate votes. PTA member Anne McCann motioned to removed Crays from his position as president, and the motion was seconded by Tony Tecce. Shortly thereafter, Tony Tecce motioned to remove Burkhart, and Maria Wilcox seconded that motion. Both motions passed with a majority vote, with four dissenters each time.

Abstentions, if there were any, would not count towards the actual vote; the majority ruling is, in absence of technicalities, the majority of those who participated in the vote.

By the book

In attendance during the entire meeting were three members from the Connecticut PTSA, including current Acting President Don Romoser. While not sure exactly who had requested the PTSA’s presence—Romoser spoke on behalf of the PTSA’s president, Jim Accomando, who is recovering from surgery—Romoser said he believed it was the “head of the Wilton council of PTAs and several members” that had “called to consult us.”

The PTSA was there, Romoser said, to guide the MD PTA in proper regulatory procedure, according to their bylaws and the governing principals of Roberts Rules of Order.

So was everything done properly?

"Oh, yes,"  he said.

According to Romoser, everything was done by the book and the actions of the MD PTA were in line with both the MD PTA’s bylaws and the governing rules of the PTSA. Additionally, the MD PTA asked the PTSA to attend their most recent meeting, held last Monday, Mar. 19, to make sure that the newly elected officials would be ushered in without bylaw conflict.

“We were there to help them interpret their parliamentary procedure,” he said.

While the Feb. meeting “wasn’t pleasant,” Romoser said that the last meeting showed member who were willing to put the conflict in the past and move on to rebuilding relations.

 “They’re moving in a very positive direction now,” he said. “They are dedicated to moving past this, and the vast majority of the PA wants to see the school and community mend and heal.”

The executive board is staffed as follows, according to the MD PTA’s website:

  • Kimber Felton, President
  • Lisa Smith, Vice President
  • Clarissa Cannavino, Secretary
  • Tara Snow, Treasurer
  • Mike Whitman, Assistant Treasurer
  • Megan Silvia, Parent-at-Large
  • Heather Pettit, Gifts and Grants
Ancient Wilton Mom March 29, 2012 at 11:28 AM
I'm not surprised that the Patch could not report on this topic without a few pokes at the PTA. After all, the controversy would have not been so heated and wounding without the Patch. That the Patch is not a newspaper is evident by its willingness to post the writings of David Crays. The PTA, both local and state, made the decision to "no comment," not because they had something to hide, but because there was nothing to hide. The PTA went by the book, the same by-laws that Crays refused to follow. And now the Patch can not even be objective in reporting that the PTA was aboveboard. "Perhaps in a nod to transparency"? The Patch is guessing, but it can not allow itself to consider that the only person ever clouding events was David Crays, who, as President of the MD PTA, never released the minutes of any of his meetings. He only supplied a lot of commentary. The other phrase that gives the Patch's bias away is "after what was most likely a tense discussion of business as usual." Well, probably it was tense but this isn't a creative writing class. The Patch isn't being graded on how many adjectives it uses. And although it is relevant that Tecce is the president of the WHS PTSA, she is also a member of the MD PTA, and it was as such that she was attending the meeting. The Patch could have noted, at any time, that WHS PTSA always posts its minutes. I have had children in each of Wilton's schools and I still have children in 3 of them.
Amo Probus March 29, 2012 at 01:39 PM
After all is said and done, TT and co acted poorly, in heir own self interests and not in hte interests of the students and teachers. School Admin should have stepped it to stop the coup. Hey, I have an idea that solves two problems. Replace the overpaid janitors with the overwrought PTA members and other parents in town. It will give the PTA something to do besides arguing about parking spaces, save more money then the PTA can ever raise at bake sales or carnivals, show their children they are truly involved, set an example of substantive community involvement, ensure high standards are established and the list goes on and on. No job is too humble - there is honor in all labor. (PS parents cleaned the school I went to as a child)
Fact Checker March 29, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Investigative journalism at its BEST !! This matter is definitively settled. Oh wait … just a couple of questions to ponder ... Are Tony Tecce and Tiffany Tecce the same person ?? My read of the minutes (found at www.millerdriscoll.com) suggest that Tiffany did “most” of the meeting’s proposing and seconding, but Patch seems to give all the credit to Tony. Hmmm – Curious …fact or fiction … Conspiracy Theory question #2 - Are the Tecces actual members of the MD PTA or is Madame Tecce utilizing her High School Presidency Power to play in the Miller Driscoll PTA Sandbox ? And if the records do show that the Family Tecce are valid members of the MD PTA - how many votes do they get ? One Family One vote or every family member can vote ? If so, does that mean both Tony and Tiffany can each cast a ballot? Can they also include Grand Ma and PoP-Pop Tecce, Cousin Mary Theresa, Fido the Service Dog who barks Ruff in favor of the motion to remove too ??
Fact Checker March 29, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Conspiracy Question # 3 - Connecticut PTSA Acting President Don Romoser says that the "Removal Went By The Book". I assume that means he checked each voter in attendance to make sure each was a paid up member of the Miller Driscoll PTA and duly listed on the PTA’s membership rolls. There is NO chance that The Tecces and Ms. Wilcaukas invited pals and neighbors who actually are not legitimate members of MD PTA, but were happy to support the ladies in the Coup and voted accordingly ?? Don made sure of that while supervising this meeting? Robert's Rules of Order does permit the Presiding Officer of a meeting to allow guests, and with his expressed permission, invited guests may have voice in the meeting. But voice and vote are two very different things. No non-member of an organization is entitled or allowed to vote on business that comes before a meeting. I suggest there is no reliable record of everybody who attended “The February” meeting and who was permitted to cast votes (either in the affirmative or the negative). For actions taken of this magnitude - The Removal of the 2 Senior Most Officers of an organization - not to have done so invalidates any such result. And for the State President, Ms Wilcaukas and the voting block of M/M Tecce to not think that is important is laughable. "By the book" ... um - you checked out the wrong book at the library - try again.
Fact Checker March 29, 2012 at 03:07 PM
And ... to this day ... I still do not know what horrific, illegal or immoral act transpired that caused those who felt it neccessary to remove the President and Vice President from their elected office on a volunteer Board - to do so - with just 4 months left in their term. It must have been outrageous to warrant their removal, but what was it ?? Something like 400 Patch comments in total (from the various stories) and no clear answer as to the cause. Something about removing a chair person from a committee and a parking spot issue - but beyond that, what is this bruhaha all about ??
Geoffrey Day March 29, 2012 at 03:38 PM
Internal politics colors the life of every organization - public, private, paid or volunteer. In some cases, like this one, the squabbles can get petty and vindictive. But let's not forget that it takes two to tango. I don't know the parties involved, I'm not a member of any local PTSA, and I don't have children attending MD. Nevertheless, it seems to me that if the two gentlemen who were deposed had so little sense of what was really going on in the organization under their leadership that they let themselves get blindsided like this, then maybe the change in leadership will ultimately have been for the better.
Jeff Farrar March 29, 2012 at 04:07 PM
1) what's legal isn't always what is right. 2) it's the PTA for gosh sakes just move on.
Jeanie C. Riley March 29, 2012 at 04:13 PM
PART ONE I want to tell you all a story 'bout a super-busy Wilton wife Who was the president of the P T A ... of Wilton Senior High. Well she logged on to Facebook one day and here’s what she had to say She said, "My friends, I got a note here from the Miller-Driscoll P.T.A. The note says, ‘My dearie, you ain’t co-chair of Carnival no more. It's reported you are power-mad and runnin' the place into the floor. And it ain’t becomin’ for you ... to be a-actin’ up this way. It was signed by the president, Miller-Driscoll PTA.’” Well, it happened that the P.T.A. was gonna meet very very soon. They were sure surprised when the lady and her friends ... stormed into the room And as she walked up to the blackboard, I still recall the words she had to say She said, "My hubby thinks it’s time I took control of this here P.T.A. Well, the president he’s sittin’ there so proud of his private parkin’ spot. And I ain’t got one. I want one! This whole thing makes me really really hot. It’s time to stage a coup and get me everything that I deserve. So let’s provide lotsa fodder for some columns written up by Heather Verve.
Jeanie C. Riley March 29, 2012 at 04:13 PM
PART TWO I brought along somebody from the Nutmeg State’s own P.T.A. And he says it’s fine with him if we impeach ... the president today. So let’s hop to it -- right now! -- I’m sick and tired of pussy-footin’ round. Let’s toss this joker out and show them who’s in charge of this here town." Well her husband said his wife thought the president, he oughta have to go. The principal and teachers who were there said that seemed really truly low. But the lady rammed it through and for good measure, removed the VP, too. Then asked, "Does anyone doubt that I’m in charge? If so, the day you met me you will rue." No I wouldn't put you on because it really did, it happened just this way The day a power-hungry mama made a joke of our local P.T.A. The day a power-hungry mama made a joke of our local P.T.A.
Deb March 29, 2012 at 05:27 PM
By far the most entertaining and informative bit on this whole fiasco that I've read to date. Thank you JCR!
Joe Burke March 29, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Thank you for the chuckle!
Connecticut15 March 30, 2012 at 09:35 PM
"By the book?" ... It feels and appears not very respectful nor appropriate if all the members of the MD PTA were not notified with ample time before the meeting that the agenda was going to be modified to include a vote on ousting the leadership. This is a true lack of transparency. When would the ousted leaders have been told about the addition to the agenda. Was there a respectful amount of time provided so that communication could have gone out to ALL MEMBERS of the MD PTA to have notice and thereby try to make it to the meeting. There may have been many members who would have wanted to vote on this action and had their voices/votes count. Or are we just giving lip service to civility and respect? Or, is this so territorial and elitist that the PTA would take a family's membership money promising full information, respect, involvement, and opportunity, and if the parents have not been able to make meetings in the past, the PTA Council believes those members aren't entitled to material information and the heads-up to be present to cast their votes? What were the horrible reasons for the ouster? Did PTA Council provide the information to all MD PTA members and give them time to understand it, ask questions, and then call a vote? Shouldn't all members be provided the information to make an informed vote? Don't blame it on parking spaces. This was a disenfranchisement of all entitled to vote.
Connecticut15 March 30, 2012 at 09:46 PM
..."The question passed with Wilcaukas’ and Tecce’s support, but the actual motion to remove the agenda item from the record failed. After this, now half an hour into the discussion, “administration and teacher representatives left the meeting.” ... Are the minutes silent as to what was discussed during that half an hour? The discussion specifics are critical. I assume they were not included since the article is silent itself as to what was discussed. Why weren't they included? Oh, sorry, rhetorical question. There is no transparency from the PTA; including those specifics deprives all members either not privy to what was planned or those unable to make the meeting any ability to understand what happened and why, to ask questions, or to weigh in. Sounds like a major manipulation.
Connecticut15 March 30, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Of course, I would be assuming that since PTA Council had the ability to call in the state PTA and be involved in placing the motion for the vote, that PTA Council also had the ability to notify all MD PTA members ahead of time with plenty of notice that the vote was going to take place and even provide opportunities to have both sides heard in a separate meeting by interested PTA members. Were any efforts made to communicate the issues to the MD PTA membership beyond the executive committees before the actions of calling for a vote for removal occurred? (since I believe any member is entitled to vote.) Maybe PTA Council did reach out to the entire MD membership to provide the information; I must have missed that in the news.
Connecticut15 March 30, 2012 at 09:54 PM
sorry, it should say," excluding those specifics deprives all members either not privy to what was planned or those unable to make the meeting any ability to understand what happened and why, to ask questions, or to weigh in. "

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