Nonprofit Law/Booster fundraising
The Ag parents of two High Schools in "ABC" School District has started an AG boosters this year to help support the Ag / FFA departments of both high Schools (there are only two high schools in the district). We are incorporated non-profit and in the process of applying for 501(c)(3), tax exempt. We have had to go in the hole financially to get this started (-$500 due to insurance the school district required us to get). We are having our first fundraiser this weekend - which is a $5 car wash - pre-sells w/ tickets. We asked the teachers to help get the tickets to the students to take home. We have been told (by the activities director of High School "A") that the students can not sell the tickets on school campus, during school hours, as it is a boosters fundraiser. We were ok with this. We now are being told the boosters can not have students sell the tickets period, only the parents can. I told them what I have my children do when I have them home is my business. Then the activities director of High School "A" went one step further. She is telling our teachers they can not help collect the money from the sold tickets and hold for us. Students were to bring unsold tickets and/or money to class and turn in, after the school day one of the Booster officers would pick up the unsold tickets and money - since we are working parents and volunteer. The teachers at High School "A" are being told they can collect unsold tickets for us, but not money. If they TOUCH the money they will be "commingling of funds" and will risk loosing their jobs or being reprimanded. This is interesting that only High School "A" activities director is saying this, but not High School "B". I have attached a copy of the Booster Guidelines she gave us.
I am asking for ANY information and guidance you can give us. I am also on the Band boosters - which a few years back had the same run around with High School "A"'s activities director. She tends to try to make it VERY difficult for Boosters to get going, as she wants to CONTROL all funds through ASB activities. She does tend to give leniency to the Athletic Boosters.
They have also told us that a director and/or instructor from the program (AG or Band) MUST be at all BOOSTER meeting including Board meetings. If not we are non-compliant and violating laws about Booster Clubs. We were given the CASBO Chapter 12 Guidelines for Booster Clubs.
High School "A" Activity Director blurs the legal lines so much that we question ourselves.
Any guidance will help. Thank you...
You wrote "I have attached a copy of the Booster Guidelines she gave us" but I do not see that attachment. You can send it to Harvey108@hotmail.com but "Guidelines" may not have been adopted properly by the School Board as a resolution (regulation). In any case, unless you signed a contract with the School Board your private booster organization is not subject to the school regulations. The school only has a choice to accept or reject your grants. The school may have some trademark rights to its name, so they may be able to restrict your use of their name, but, from what you wrote, I don't know if you are using their name for solicitations.
The School Board may have regulations as to what teachers may do and I suggest that you not try to get in the middle of the school-teacher relationship. As for whether a school board may, under the U.S. constitution, prohibit students from engaging certain free speech activities off of school property. they may not do so unless they can show that their regulations are a valid time, place and manner restriction. For example, see the Information from the California Attorney General. "In fact, the United States Supreme Court has ruled in three separate decisions that solicitation of charitable contributions is protected speech under the First Amendment and that state laws cannot infringe upon this protected speech."
on page 12
Generally, as to Free Speech Rights of Public School Students see the web page of the University of Missouri, Kansas City Law School at http://goo.gl/2B5En1
Harvey Mechanic, Attorney at Law -
P.S. This response is intended to be a general statement of law, should not be relied upon as legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship.