Parents body attacked by charity bosses

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The Independent Online
The management and financial controls of England's largest and wealthiest parents' organisation are expected to be called into question by charity watchdogs in a report due out tomorrow.

Charity commissioners investigating the running of the National Council of Parent Teacher Associations will raise concerns including the propriety of employment by the charity of its own former trustees.

The report will also examine the spending of charity funds on legal advice following the sacking last November of two pro-reform trustees. Further inquiries are expected to follow.

The NCPTA, which represents almost12,000 schools and has a pounds 750,000 annual income, has been rocked in recent months by a bitter internal dispute marking the culmination of years of in-fighting over its role and organisation.

Charity Commissioners launched an inquiry in February this year following complaints including allegations of junketing by members in expensive hotels. Concerns were also raised over alleged mismanagement, conflicts of interest and inadequate financial controls within the charity.

The claims have been strongly contested by NCPTA leaders. Spokeswoman Margaret Morrissey earlier this year insisted the organisation could "defend itself to the hilt".

Turmoil within the NCPTA came to a head late last year with the sacking of trustees Sandi Marshall and Sean Rogers, who was due to take over as chairman this month.

Both claim they were elected by the membership on a reformist platform to put the organisation on a more professional footing.They say they want to see more help for parents in schools at grass roots level, making better use of the charity's income and pounds 1,2m savings.

They were removed by their fellow trustees for "bringing the organisation into disrepute" after a dispute with NCPTA staff.

A chief executive appointed last year to run the charity following pressure from reformers left after three months and has not been replaced.

The Charity Commissioners, whose interim report will be discussed by NCPTA members at an annual general meeting on Sunday, are expected to continue their investigations. Their ultimate sanction would be the removal of trustees.