Lea Darrah Testifies at CA State Assembly Hearing on School Closures

Yesterday, Lea Darrah, California State PTA VP for Education, testified at a hearing of Assembly Budget Subcommittee No. 2 on Education Finance. The topic of the hearing was how to mitigate learning loss during the COVID-19 school closures.

Darrah was part of a panel that also included representatives from the California State Board of Education, Policy Analysis for California Education, the California Department of Finance, San Lorenzo Unified School District, the Association of California School Administrators, the California Teachers Association, Elk Grove School District, and EdTrust West.

“While districts are doing their best to provide distance learning, we know there are gaps in the system in which students may not have access to adequate technology devices, internet access or a quiet place to learn,” Darrah said during the hearing. “We support educators and believe they need and deserve professional development for distance learning. I think more than ever we realize the value of our teachers in California.”

“Furthermore, students with additional needs such as English learners, students with IEPs, 504s or special education students need additional support and services to succeed in this new learning environment,” she continued. “We have heard from parents who are concerned about ensuring their students stay at grade level and do not experience learning losses.”

“Most of all, our students and families need to feel safe and secure to face the challenges that this current pandemic requires of us. And it is my sincere hope that the legislature makes the decisions to invest in safety, mental health, educational services and social services to protect our most valued assets in the state, our children.”

Lea and other members of California State PTA leadership team will continue to advocate to get teachers, parents and families the resources and support they need to make it through this uncertain and challenging period of distance learning and school closures.

To see video footage of the hearing, click here. Darrah’s testimony starts at 2:36.

To read a text version of Darrah’s testimony, click here.

PTA Leadership Town Hall Webinar: May 5

California State PTA president Celia Jaffe and members of the Board of Directors and leadership team held a town hall webinar on May 5 where they offered important information and answered your questions about how to handle PTA business and functions during the coronavirus epidemic.

If you want to watch a recording of the webinar, click here.

If you want to download and view the PowerPoint presentation, click here.

If you want answers to frequently asked questions that we were not able to get to during the webinar, click here for general FAQs, here for communications FAQs, here for membership FAQs, here for parliamentary issues, and here for financial issues.

California State PTA and Carol Kocivar Honored at 2020 National PTA Legislative Conference

California State PTA was recognized with the Outstanding State Advocacy Award at the 2020 National PTA Legislative Conference in Washington D.C. last month, for our efforts in raising awareness about healthier school start times and securing the passage of SB 328, the Late School Start bill. The legislation, which was signed into law by Governor Newsom in October 2019, requires that middle schools in California start no earlier than 8:00 a.m., and high schools no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Carol Kocivar, CAPTA’s former president and current legislative advocate, was also honored individually. She received the 2020 Shirley Igo Advocate of the Year Award, which is presented to an individual PTA member who, through their leadership and advocacy efforts, affected federal policy priorities within PTA’s annual Public Policy Agenda. Carol’s advocacy includes work on increasing investments in quality public education, school infrastructure, public school choice and charter accountability, as well as safe and supportive school environments.

While they were in Washington, our delegation of 14 from California also met with the offices of Senators Feinstein and Harris, as well as the offices of a number of our Congressional representatives. Our talking points focused on the inclusion of schools in any federal infrastructure legislation as well as the reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. Click here for a copy of the National PTA talking points for the conference.

Director of Legislation Shereen Walter and California State PTA President Celia Jaffe also presented a standing-room-only workshop on effective grassroots advocacy techniques as one of the Spotlight presentations being highlighted at the conference.

LCAP Training Webinar

Attend our LCAP webinar and learn about the latest changes to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF)-Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) template and how you can directly impact your child’s education, school, and school district.

Date and time: TBD – This webinar has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak. Please stay tuned for reschedule date.

PTA Stands with Families, Schools and Communities Impacted by California Wildfires

Media Contacts:

Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Communications

Ignacio Barragan, Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org / 916.440.1985

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 4, 2019 – National PTA President Leslie Boggs and California State PTA President Celia Jaffe issued the following statement regarding the wildfires in California:

“PTA is deeply concerned for all our members and the families, schools and communities affected by the wildfires across California. We empathize with and stand ready to support those dealing with loss of property, safety and routines.

“As the oldest and largest child advocacy association in the U.S., it is our duty to help families and school communities as they rebuild and recover. We remain committed to doing everything we can to assist those affected and help restore learning environments as quickly as possible.

“PTA offers resources to help families and educators have conversations with children to help them deal with emotions of fear, confusion, sadness and anger they may feel after incidents like the wildfires. These resources and other tips can be accessed at PTA.org.

“PTA also offers a Disaster Relief Fund to respond to tragedies that grievously disrupt a school or education system. We encourage PTAs and schools impacted by the wildfires, blackout and school closures to apply for support from the fund. We also urge everyone to donate to the fund to help support PTAs and schools in need.

“PTA members work every day to give our children, families and school communities what they need to thrive. Following this type of event, our mission becomes that much more important. And as Thanksgiving approaches, the need to give has never been greater. We know we can count on our PTA members across the country to help meet the needs caused by the wildfires.”

Meet the 2019-21 Board of Directors

Media Contacts:

Ignacio Barragan, Assistant Executive Director
ibarragan@capta.org / (714) 423-0716

Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Communications

SACRAMENTO – Celia Jaffe, a resident of Huntington Beach, is the new president of California State PTA, leading the association of over 700,000 members in advocating for the education, health and welfare of California’s 9 million children.

Jaffe was elected to the 2019-21 term of office, which began on July 1. In her new role, Jaffe will serve as chief executive officer of the California State PTA and chair of the Board of Directors. California State PTA is the nation’s largest and highest profile child-advocacy organization and strives to connect families, schools and communities.

Jaffe has spent her entire life working with and for children and supporting public education, including teaching high school English and serving as a school board trustee.

“PTAs all over California strive to build connections between families and schools and to fight for the well-being of all children, and I am excited to support and enhance those important efforts. California State PTA also brings the advocacy voice of our membership to policy-makers at all levels, and I cherish that role as well,” said Jaffe.

Jaffe has served the PTA at the local, regional, and state levels in many roles, including president of Fourth District PTA (Orange County) and statewide vice president for education. Her work with PTA has been focused on helping parents to understand the new state dashboard, advocating for a full-curriculum and and empowering schools and families to work together.

She and her husband have two adult children, and she has been involved in PTA since they were in elementary school.

“I see the positive results PTA makes in local communities where families are truly partners in educating our children, and the voice that PTA has in Sacramento making a difference for all kids,” said Jaffe. “The best byproduct of participating in PTA all these years is working alongside wonderful people who give of themselves in this volunteer organization.”

California State PTA has a long tradition of speaking up and speaking out on behalf of all children and families at national, state, regional and local levels. Joining your local PTA is a great way to support your child’s education. Learn more at www.capta.org/join.

2019 – 2021 California State PTA Board of Directors

  • Celia Jaffe, President
  • Carol Green, President-elect
  • Maria Steck, Vice President for Leadership Services
  • Michael Morgan, Vice President for Membership Services
  • Heather Ippolito, Vice President for Communications
  • Heidi Goddi, Vice President for Convention
  • Mariaelena Huizar, Vice President for Health & Community Concerns
  • Lea Darrah, Vice President for Education
  • Deborah Johnson, Vice President for Family Engagement
  • Jeff Price, Secretary
  • Melinda Kirkland, Treasurer
  • Tim Davidson, Parliamentarian
  • Shereen Walter, Director of Legislation
  • Otis Cross, Chair of the District Presidents
  • Sherry Skelly Griffith, Executive Director

Guidance on Student Walk Outs and Marches

We’ve heard the voices of our members – the hundreds of thousands of parents, teachers, students, administrators and community members who are outraged at the senseless shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that took the lives of 17 students and faculty members. Our students across the nation are using their powerful voices to ask for meaningful policy changes at the state and federal level to address the all too common issue of gun violence that is affecting them in the place they should feel safest: their school.

The following are walk outs and marches we are currently aware of:

  • Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are planning to march in Tallahassee the week of February 20
  • On March 14, students and teachers are planning to walk out of their schools at 10 a.m. local time for 17 minutes to honor the 17 lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. This event is being planned in part by the organizers of the Women’s March
  • On March 24, the kids and families of March For Our Lives will take to the streets of Washington, DC. March For Our Lives is created and led by students across the country
  • Another National High School Walkout is planned at 10 a.m. on April 20, which will mark the 19th year since the shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.

California State PTA supports the rights of students to express themselves on campus through organized demonstrations, but believes that care must be taken to ensure the orderly operation of the school is not disrupted and the physical safety of students is not threatened. Leaving during school hours to attend an off-campus demonstration places the student outside the safety zone of the school and unnecessarily jeopardizes that school’s education funding.

We entrust our students to their school leadership to ensure a safe environment for their voices to be heard. Be sure to talk with your local school district about possible student demonstrations that may affect your school or community.

PTAs can be involved in and support the efforts of our students so that their voices can be amplified. The following guidelines should be followed:

  • Any event needs to be approved by a vote of the respective PTA
  • A PTA spokesperson should be appointed and messaging should be based on PTA’s authorities including adopted resolutions and positions statements that can be found on the California State PTA website at www.capta.org and the National PTA website at www.pta.org. Please note, the California State PTA Board of Managers recently adopted a revised position statement on Firearms and Assault Weapons
  • If a PTA is participating in an event held by another organization, it is important to ensure that the other organization is aligned with PTA authorities. If your PTA is planning to distribute information about another group’s event in person or through a PTA distribution list, you must have the approval of your association. If you are attending on behalf of PTA or representing PTA, you must have the approval of your association
  • The safety of our members and students needs to be a priority when evaluating participation in any event.


California State PTA is asking for your help to “call out” federal lawmakers on March 14 to demand stronger gun-violence prevention legislation, including:

  • Prohibiting the sale and possession of assault weapons
  • Mandatory background checks
  • Waiting periods for all firearm purchases.


Update as of March 6, 2018

Fringe news outlets have recently published stories incorrectly stating California State PTA’s positions on gun-violence prevention efforts and student demonstrations. California PTA is not organizing any marches or student walkouts.

Gun violence is a public-health crisis that affects us all – most of all, our children and youth. And, it’s preventable. California State PTA will be addressing gun violence, school safety and mental health issues with federal lawmakers in Washington D.C. on March 13-15 during the 2018 National PTA Legislation Conference. We are also asking for your help to “call out” your federal legislators to demand stronger gun-violence prevention legislation. View the action alert.

California State PTA supports the rights of students to express themselves on campus through organized demonstrations, but believes that care must be taken to ensure the orderly operation of the school is not disrupted and the physical safety of students is not threatened. Leaving during school hours to attend an off-campus demonstration places the student outside the safety zone of the school and unnecessarily jeopardizes that school’s education funding. We are aware of several student demonstrations scheduled in the coming days and weeks and have provided guidance for local PTAs that wish to support student voices. View guidance information.

Additional Resources

PTA Resolutions Guide

This guide will help you in preparing a resolution for potential review, vote and adoption by delegates to the California State PTA Annual Convention.

Resolutions call attention to a problem and a need for action on a particular issue. They are a major source of policy for the California State PTA and its units, councils and districts. If a problem or situation has statewide implications affecting children and youth and warrants PTA action, a convention resolution is one way to authorize action.

Download the guide.