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Advice on dealing with a PTA queen bee

AmyElliesMom's picture

Okay, so the president of Ellie's school PTA is a total queen bee. At the school all day, every day. Her daughter wins every fundraising contest b/c she just writes a check (except the walkathon last year, and boy, was she peeved). She's also the head of Ellie's softball association.

So, you see I have to deal with this woman everywhere.

Here is my problem: yesterday, while I was volunteering at the library, one of the other moms (she is the volunteer co-ordinator, and really nice, to boot) was asking something about what symbol to use on some sort of display for Eid al-Fitr (and other winter holidays). Julie just wasn't sure what to use. Keep in mind our school has a large Muslim student population - both from the Middle East and the Balkans. My point there is that many of our Muslim students look just like "us", so to speak. Only two girls wear headscarves, b/c most of the kids are too young. However, the two that do wear headscarves spend some time in the library every day around lunchtime. Which is when the following comment was made (I didn't see them there, but they could have just been where I couldn't see them):

Volunteer Mom: I hope this book helps; I just don't know what to use
PTA President: How about a plane flying into a couple of buildings? Ha ha!
Volunteer Mom: I can't hear you. I'm not listening! (said in a very uncomfortable, trying to laugh it off way.)

I know that the volunteer mom is a very active Christian in her church, but isn't one of *those* types of people. She may not be Muslim, but she's not a bigot.

And obviously, *I'm* not Muslim, but when I heard what that woman said, I felt like throwing up. I actually left the library early, b/c I just couldn't stand being the same room as her.

There WERE kids present, but I don't know if any of them heard her or not. I really hope not.

My question is, do I say something? To her? The principal? I'm not sure the other mom would be willing to start a fuss with the PTA president. Her daughter is only in the third grade, so she's going to be around for at least two more years. Not to mention the softball connection.

She's the type of person that DOES not take criticism well. She's very competetive and I worry that if I say something to her, she'll take it as personal attack.

I just don't know what to do.


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

MadMom's picture

(post #46638, reply #1 of 42)

My temptation would be to confront her and ask "Exactly why did you make that statement?"  If she waffles, or mumbles something about 9/11, ask if she really feels the Muslim children at your school had a part in that.  Of course, you might be wiser to just ignore her, since she is obviously an ignorant bigot, and nothing you could say or do would educate her, just make her angry...and you don't want anything taken out on Ellie.  Such a difficult choice.

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ehBeth's picture

(post #46638, reply #2 of 42)

Personally I think the principal should know.

But how to do it ...

... on my way to class. Will mull, and hope than calmer souls than mine will respond before I get back.

If you can't play a sport, be one.
If you can't play a sport, be one.
wonka's picture

(post #46638, reply #3 of 42)

We have a parent who is exactly as you described who is the past president of our Parent Advisory Committee. She is very competent and gets things done but at a price. She has stepped on alot of toes and addressing her on her behaviour always resulted in bullying behaviour on her part. I wouldn't say anything. If she offends someone directly they would probably have more success humbling her than a bystander would. If you really feel you need to address this perhaps going to the principal with your concerns over her comment and ask him/her to not use your name.

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #46638, reply #4 of 42)

Damn, that's a hard one. I know what I hope I'd do in the same situation - tell her what I used to tell my son when he came home with an obnoxious attitude or joke -- "that's crap, and crap is what you flush down the toilet".

Of course there may be a more tactful way of calling her on it -- maybe just take her aside and gently remind her that there are a number of students who would be hurt by the association with 9/11 -- and since she obviously loves children, and cares deeply about their education, she surely wouldn't want to be responsible for causing any of them to feel badly.

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
George Orwell, 1984

mer's picture

(post #46638, reply #5 of 42)

I think you should tell her that her comment perplexed you and that you wanted to know what she meant by it. I agree that you should toss in a few of Shy's comments about loving kids and education etc..

Sometimes I find that it is easier to deal with aggressive personality types like this by flipping the question back to them, but doing it in a , "Hmm.. Tell me more" kind of way. That way you get them to stick their own foot in their mouth and they can't be as mad at you for that because they said it, not you. Try to do this in a place where you are alone with her so she doesn't feel cornered and you don't have kids evesdropping.

It very well could have been one of those really stupid things that comes out of your mouth and that you can't pull back. Or it could be a sign of who she really is.

Good luck.

gardencat's picture

(post #46638, reply #6 of 42)

How upsetting! Given that this is a school, where the students/children are supposed to feel safe, I think you and the other mom might be best to talk with the principal about it. If this woman says that to an adult, what would she say to a child who asked her the same question?

Just my thoughts--as a nurse I would have to confront this if I overheard this type of comment from a colleague, in order to protect the vulnerable patients and families. I am just extrapolating to the protection of the children.

Heather's picture

(post #46638, reply #7 of 42)

I tend to speak up if someone says something racist/sexist in my presence now. I'm not a confrontational person at all, but as I've gotten older I figure it is my responsibility to call people on stupid comments--if I let it pass I am condoning it in a way. This is a difficult situation because it sounds like you'll have to deal with this woman for a while. I think the principal should be made aware of this because he/she will have to cope with the uproar if someone is really hurt by any of this woman's comments. But I'd consider saying something to her also. Sandra is such a tactful person and you will do much better if you keep her comments in mind. This woman obviously wouldn't take well to an attack. "I'm sure you were joking, but just imagine how one of our Muslim students would feel if she heard you saying something like that."

collwen's picture

(post #46638, reply #27 of 42)

I agree that you should talk to the Mom who made the inappropriate comment. She's the head of the PTA after all, and that includes ALL the parents. You may also want to mention it to the principal, but not until after you talk to her. The other mom need not be involved since you heard her and it upset you, but if she wants to great.  Has the Queen Bee made similarly racist comments before? If not, you might want to find out what's going on with her.

msm-s's picture

(post #46638, reply #8 of 42)

urk. every school has at least one of these types jockeying for power and attention (big fish in a small pond).
i, too, can't keep my mouth shut when this happens. in this case, i know i would have walked up to her and played kinda dumb, asking her if she would repeat it as i didn't believe what i heard. if she'd blown me off as an eavesdropper i'd point out that was exactly my point-- her crude remark was overheard.
as already mentioned, the head of school should be given a heads up about the incident (although he/sheprobably won't be terribly surprised.) no one wants to feel like a tattler, but it's for the good of the school.
i would only suggest if or when you make your complaint, whether in writing or verbally, you keep it short, factual, and limited to the one incident (unless there's been other blatant offenses. you don't want to sound like you are just irritated by this woman). word it as though this woman is going to hear what you said verbatim. keep personalities out of it.
best wishes-

Edited 12/6/2006 9:17 pm ET by msm-s

Jillsifer's picture

(post #46638, reply #9 of 42)

I have no advice, sweetie. I've been there and hated every minute of it. One Mother actually registered an "official complaint" that my son was chosen as the winner in a poetry-recitation contest because her son WASN'T. Never mind the fact that my son just plain did better--that didn't matter--we weren't in The Clique, therefore my son didn't deserve to win.

We are no longer associated with that school and things are MUCH better in Gillen's world now.

E-mail me if you want or need to just ****** and whine. I WILL listen, even if I can't really help per se.




Overheard at Disneyland: "What time is the 9:00 parade?"

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

-- Washington Irving

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #46638, reply #10 of 42)

Thanks for the advice, guys.

I think that I'm just not going to say anything. Everyone in the school knows what this woman is like - the mere mention of her name to Ellie's teacher results in a deep sigh and eye rolling on her part.

In the interest of not having Ellie singled out by this woman (which I fully believe she'd be capable of), I'm just going to suck it up.

Sadly, there is a real undercurrent of "us and them" at Ellie's school among some of the PTA and even some teachers.

Working in the library, I get to a wide cross section of the school, and it ain't all pretty.

I just try to be nice to the kids, remember their names and make dumb jokes so that they know that not ALL white women are beotches. And yeah, the clique, as Jill so rightly described them, are all middle class white women. Judgmental bitties, the lot of 'em.

I've been told to 'keep an eye on' specific kids during bookfair - within earshot of said kids. Yeah, I'm sure some kids would take a five finger discount given the chance, but singling some kids out like that? Not right.

I've heard these same women make jokes about kids that speak Spanish, too.

Welcome to Florida, where racism doesn't HAVE to be thinly veiled!


And I hate that keeping my mouth shut is the best thing for Ellie in this case. If it was just me, I'd be making a huge stink. But for Ellie's sake, I have to keep the peace.

But I think I'll passively-aggressively start talking about being pagan and how wonderful it is to have Ellie in such an inclusive and diverse school and how I never feel judged for not being Christian.

Then they'll at least not expect me to join in on their bigoted chit chat.


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

jaq's picture

(post #46638, reply #31 of 42)

I would be careful with your plan.

I had a friend who was raised Buddhist- when she was six another little girl found out about it, told her she wasn't invited to her birthday party(seriously!!) and that she was going to Hell.

If this mom is like this at school, think how she will be at home and what she is telling her kids. Little girls form cliques too. My concern is for Ellie.

Just to reassure- I have nothing against your beliefs, have thought about going that way myself but I have commitment issues with any form of spirituality. And if you feel it won't be a problem for Ellie then it won't be. I'm just being cautious and perhaps paranoid, but it's a wicked world.

msm-s's picture

(post #46638, reply #32 of 42)

it is a wicked world. the best thing you can do is prepare your kids for what might happen and help them think through what to say if confronted, before you act. i would agree that you should proceed with caution, as this QB will probably use this as a further excuse to ignore anything you have to say. what a bee-yotch.
BTW, i also remember as a kid li'l protestants telling the li'l catholics they were going to hell, and the li'l catholics telling li'l protestants they were going to hell. it's universal, so it's all about the tools parents give their kids to deal with hate on their own.

Edited 12/8/2006 11:43 am ET by msm-s

Ricks503's picture

(post #46638, reply #11 of 42)

My Mis-read  is appropriate to the topic anyway.  I was thinking PITA not PTA at first.


I would start by taking it to the principal or maybe the district EEOC office. If other Muslim parents here this type of talk, the district/school could be in for a law suit.



" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

Edited 12/7/2006 11:22 am ET by Ricks503



" There'll be no living with her now" - Captain Jack Sparrow

SallyBR1's picture

(post #46638, reply #13 of 42)

Amazing, but I misread exactly like you!

Well, I have no advice. THis is beyond tough. I know I would not be able to confront her, because if I did I would lose my temper half way through, and it would not be pretty.

I would ignore the PITA - I am sure most people by now should know her true colors.



"Sally who? Sally in the corner"
(Amy, November 2006)

bookwyrm73's picture

(post #46638, reply #14 of 42)

Have you tried a burning paper bag of dog poo on her front porch?


"If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use reading it at all."    Oscar Wilde

A library is not a luxury but one of the necessities of life.
Henry Ward Beecher

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #46638, reply #15 of 42)

Oh, that's evil. I like you.

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
George Orwell, 1984

SallyBR1's picture

(post #46638, reply #16 of 42)

If that does not work, definitely go for raw shrimp inside her car's wheels - you know, get that metal cover that protects the screws off - place 2 raw shrimps in, replace cover.

in two weeks the PTA will be selling the car (for parts!)




"Sally who? Sally in the corner"
(Amy, November 2006)

msm-s's picture

(post #46638, reply #17 of 42)

okay, now you're just scaring me

shywoodlandcreature's picture

(post #46638, reply #18 of 42)

Hmmm.. I remember Limburg cheese left in the back seat of a very unpopular history teacher's car one unbearably hot day in June...

"It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen."
George Orwell, 1984

KitchenWitch's picture

(post #46638, reply #19 of 42)


Fox lure - in the air vent intakes, or better yet, sprayed on the interior via a hypodermic through the window seal.


You don't scare me. I have a three year old.


SallyBR1's picture

(post #46638, reply #24 of 42)

Ok, we've got a winner!




"Sally who? Sally in the corner"
(Amy, November 2006)

Biscuit's picture

(post #46638, reply #12 of 42)

Well - as an active member of OUR PTA, and a woman who is at school at least 3 days a week (but not the competitive crazy person you describe (G)) - and also as a person not interested in confrontation, but also not going to back down from one either - personally, I'd invite her outside and open a can of whoop #### on her.  The &^%$$ (my doing, not the censor).  Seriously. I'd have invited her out there and then and said some pretty harsh things.

HOWEVER - knowing you, Amy, and how you hate that, here's my advice.  I'd be in the principals office so fast my feet wouldn't touch the ground.  And I'd register a formal complaint and I would be PROUD of it.  I would also speak with the librarian about what was said. 

That sort of thing isn't "nothing".  She is the President of the PTA for God's sake!  She is around these children ALL the time!  I'm horrified.  I really am. 

Want me to come down there and handle her for you?  It would be my very great pleasure.

Mama, I'm just a factory of love!  Know why?  Because no matter how much love I make and give you, I'm always making more!  That's what a factory does, so I'm a Factory of Love! - Max

"When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty."  - George Bernard Shaw

Jarhead's picture

(post #46638, reply #20 of 42)

IMO I would talk to the Principal. Do it discreetly. Try an anonymous e-mail to prevent friction. Make a new account like hotmail, yahoo, use a name like concerned parent. Make a mention you "overheard" a conversation........ which would put you out of the picture of "tattling".

The issue is the children, not her, or you. If that type of behaviour gets around to the students or was overheard by them this would be detrimental. She would be inciting the exact feelings, desires, you are trying to avoid. The racial bigotry that will never end til the parents stop. It is a lineage that needs to stop and you can do this now.

In the end she will be removed from her duties. If not something is amiss.......

                                    Semper Fi

Semper Fi

"To be young and a conservative, you have no heart"

"To be old and a liberal, you have no mind"

Winston Churchill

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem."

Luka's picture

(post #46638, reply #21 of 42)

You wuss !


Me and Biscuit is gonna go open a can of whooparse on the PiTA !

You in, or not ?

Get over it....... The angry going eat you up. ~Brownbagg '06




Jarhead's picture

(post #46638, reply #26 of 42)

LOL. Tried to hide......... Trying to save face. Offer GOOD reasoning to the ladies. When they ask questions it is a mans duty to solve them!   :-)

Doesn't work on DW though. She says I need to listen more......... Whatever. She doesn't know what she is talking about.

                                    Semper Fi

Semper Fi

"To be young and a conservative, you have no heart"

"To be old and a liberal, you have no mind"

Winston Churchill

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem."

msm-s's picture

(post #46638, reply #28 of 42)

i have to agree that no school, or any business i know of, will respect an anonymous letter about something overheard. it sounds like a lie based on a grudge, and more importantly there is no way to contact the author to follow up. and it's bad form to call in the accused based on such a letter, not to mention ineffective: the mom will deny it and spin it without the author present to set the record straight. it needs to be worded very simply with no exaggeration or emotion interfering with the facts; the facts are bad enough and speak for themselves. and it must be signed, with a phone #... which is why it's a very big step to take and AEM is understandably in a quandry.
still, i vote for coming forward

Jean's picture

(post #46638, reply #22 of 42)

Who would pay attention to an anonymous note? Not a good idea.

They told me I was gullible and I believed them.

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
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Meg's picture

(post #46638, reply #23 of 42)

(I work for our school's Principal, but our parent group is not a part of the school's administrative function.)   Is this school's Principal/Headmaster in charge of the PTA?  If this is part of the formal PTA, then it must abide by the national regulations, which means that there would be a route for formal complaint.  Perhaps a letter written to the PTAs president, vice president, other board members (the school board, too?) is in order.  It sounds as though the PTA president's comments are racially based, and there are legal concerns which can rise from this.  She is probably not representing the entire PTAs stance when she opens her mouth to express those thoughts.

Good luck.

Jarhead's picture

(post #46638, reply #25 of 42)

Anyone with good sense will. Legality issues ensue otherwise.

                                       Semper Fi

Semper Fi

"To be young and a conservative, you have no heart"

"To be old and a liberal, you have no mind"

Winston Churchill

"Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference. The Marines don't have that problem."