And of course, welcome Justwanttoteach!!! I'm very happy to see you here.
post #41 of 77
2/4/08 at 8:57pm
|1) Violating the bylaws. Has the FPEA followed its current bylaws with regards to sending this ballot out to its members and asking for the proposed change? Or has the FPEA violated its own bylaws while asking to change them? What will the Department of State think about this? Could this effect the FPEA's incorporated status? Has the FPEA broken the law?
At this link: http://www.fpea.com/Association/BYLAWS.htm
under IX. MISCELLANEOUS, it says:
"Section 2. Amendments.
These Bylaws may be amended by a two-thirds vote of all votes cast by mailed-in ballots that will be mailed to all members of the Association as well as at a properly called meeting of the Association, or only through mailed-in ballots if requested by the Board. Any amendment must first be passed by a two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors and then a description and arguments giving various viewpoints, along with the mailed-in ballot, published in the newsletter or mailed out separately."
The second sentence is very important. I received my ballot packet and it does not contain a description of the proposed amendments and it does not include any arguments giving various viewpoints. There is no mention whatsoever of the proposed changes or upcoming ballot request in the Jan-Feb FPEA Almanac. It seems the FPEA and its Board of Directors has chosen to selectively ignore their current bylaws. With this seemingly being the case, what is the point of having bylaws at all? I'd love to hear what the FPEA and all of its Directors have to say about this. Perhaps ex-Vice Chairman, John Kernohan, is correct and this was all a mistake and will soon be corrected. As a matter of fact, I expect that the ballot will be retracted as it is in complete violation of FPEA bylaws and an apology will be issued to all FPEA members for this grievous error.
2) Nonprofit Status & Tax Laws. How does the FPEA plan to handle the tax issues associated with the potential bylaw changes? The FPEA currently has a "social" tax exempt status and the fact that they are trying to add "Judeo-Christian principles", as well as the advertised content of the convention being overwhelmingly religious, make it possible that the IRS is going to be very unhappy with the FPEA. If the FPEA changes their nonprofit type to "religious", they will be able to accept more money as donations, but they will be subject to far greater governmental oversight. Does the FPEA have a plan in place for this? And if so, when will it be revealed to its members?
3) Inclusive or exclusive? I thought it was pretty ironic that the letterhead on the letter included with the proposed bylaws and articles of incorporation packet stated, "Florida's largest nonprofit, all-inclusive homeschool family association." If the FPEA does add "Judeo-Christian principles" to the organization, what will the FPEA have to offer to groups like ours (a secular and inclusive group) and other secular and religious groups in Florida who might not practice the exact same sort of Christianity that the FPEA convention seems to promote? With the children and teen programs at the convention both covering "Biblical Worldview"...and only one sort, saying the others are based on lies, is there even any reason for families who don't hold that exact biblical worldview to go to the convention of which their dues have supported the creation of? Is the FPEA going to start offering an alternative convention, something with a wider offering of classes for its diverse membership?
4) Refunds. Should the FPEA continue to move forward with becoming a religious and exclusive organization, I believe that many members of our inclusive homeschool group (Homeschoolers of Collier County - HOCC) will be demanding a refund. They paid their money to an association that bills itself as "inclusive" and does not mention religious or Judeo-Christian principles on their website at all. This could be seen as misrepresentation and I believe that members who are not interested in having their dues going toward a non-inclusive convention and association from all over Florida will be making an issue of this. How does FPEA plan to issue refunds to the possibly thousands of members who demand them?
5) Freedom of modality. Another piece of wording in the proposed Amendment to the Articles of Incorporation bothers me. It says, under, "SECOND",
"A) promoting sound family-based home education programs." That sounds as if the FPEA intends to start dictating "what" forms of homeschooling are superior to others, which are "sound" and which are not . As a proponent of a parents' right to choose (which Chairman Gary Weaver seems to be in favor of in his editorial in the Jan-Feb FPEA Almanac), I feel that the wording in statement "A)" above is not at all favorable to homeschoolers in the State of Florida. I object to it strongly.
If they sent it out to vote on that seems fair to me.
(Not trying to get flamed.)
A lot of people think that "Judeo-Christian" means "interfaith" in the U.S.
This morning I received an email that was forwarded to me from someone over on the Gulf Coast, which was a message originally sent out last night by the FPEA's District 9 Director. This email had 3 attachments to it containing what appears to be the FPEA's explanations of the proposed changes and a letter from FPEA Chairman Gary Weaver. I have not yet fully reviewed these documents, but two things have come to mind.
1). Since this new information is being provided by email a week after the original package was being received by FPEA members, will the FPEA throw out any and all ballots received to date since anyone who has already voted did so without this new information? I have emailed my local Director about this and am awaiting a response.
2). The letter that was included in last night's email states the voting still needs to be completed by February 22nd. It seems to me that since additional information is just now being received by email from the FPEA the deadline should be extended - or this entire vote should be terminated and a new one scheduled for a future date.
Why is there no explanation or description of the problematic "government grants and contracts" clause.
I am dismayed at the lack of discussion about the item that includes "acceptance of donations, government grants and contracts".
Giving the government any amount of sway with the FPEA is not something I am personally interested in supporting. How can
the FPEA remain independent and be trusted to watch over the government and home education related laws for us, if the government
is in FPEA's pockets?
I also feel that the current ballot deadline should be changed or that the entire ballot should be scrapped and
restarted at a later date. Many members may have already cast their votes at the vague urgings of their District Directors, without
having a full understanding of what the changes really were and how they affect the members. Those members should have a chance
to vote again. My District Director told me that there really were no changes, that it was just an UPDATE and that there were "no" pros and cons
regarding the changes. I assume that others have been told similar things and I don't believe that is an upfront way for the FPEA to operate.
I am not an accountant, but I think if a 501(c)4 organization incorporated in the State of Florida, such as the FPEA, makes any change to its Mission Statement, Purpose, or Articles, those changes might have an impact on the organization's tax status.
I believe the procedure is that any changes to a 501(c)4 organization’s Mission Statement, Purposes or Articles need to be presented to the IRS for a ruling (determination of tax status). Since an organization’s tax status is based, in part, on the Mission Statement, Purpose and Articles originally submitted to the IRS - it is possible any changes to any of these documents might motivate the IRS to change the organization’s tax status.
At the same time, I am assuming the FPEA's office, its treasurer and/or its outside accountant looked into this prior to submitting the proposed changes to the membership for a vote.