What is a Parliamentarian?

What is a Parliamentarian?

Have you asked that question recently?  Come on, be honest…  My name is Derby Pattengill and I am the Council Parliamentarian.  As I was starting in PTA a few years ago, I asked that question myself.  I believe I was even appointed parliamentarian of a unit and then had to look up the job description to finally understand.

Let me just take a few minutes to explain this very important appointed board opposition.  A parliamentarian of the PTA is an expert in the rules of order and the proper procedures for the conduct of meetings of deliberate assemblies(PTA meetings for us).  The parliamentarian assists the organization in the drafting and interpretation of bylaws and rules of order and the planning and conduct of meetings.

What does that mean?  It means that the Parliamentarian has a good working knowledge of the unit bylaws and can assist the president when questions of procedure arise during meetings.  Yes, the procedures and rules that are such a big part of PTA.  I know that many are having a big sigh right now, but what are all of the procedures and rules for anyway?  They are for fairness and transparency.  The principals of Parliamentary law are:

  • Justice and courtesy to all
  • Rights of the minority are protected
  • Rule of the majority protected
  • Partiality to none
  • Consideration of one subject at a time

When you put it that way, it doesn’t look so bad, right?  Let’s have a fair meeting where everyone may participate and no one person may dominate.  Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised is the parliamentary text that governs the PTA where the bylaws do not apply.  Bylaws for local PTA/PTSA units always take precedence over Robert’s Rules of Order.  I use the “Idiots “ version by the way and both are available online or at an actual bookstore.

Unit bylaws are filled with so much good information.

  • PTA officer positions and job descriptions
  • Meeting days
  • Number of board members or members needed at meetings to conduct business
  • Tax ID numbers
  • So much more….

We have bylaws for every unit at the council office.  Contact me if you need a copy of your set.  Bylaws also need to be updated every three years.  It is a simple process listed at the front of your bylaws, but you can call me about that as well.

Please remember the wise words of Robert-

Bylaws are a tool, not a weapon.

We, at council are here to help you with bylaws and any parliamentarian questions you nay have.  Please contact the council office or me directly.

Derby Pattengill
San Diego Unified Council of PTAs

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