Job Description for Parliamentarian
Parliamentary procedure is simply a set of rules for conducting organized meetings. Following parliamentary procedures lets the PTA accomplish its goals fairly while protecting all members’ rights. This is democracy in action. The basic principles of parliamentary procedure are these:
- Consider one thing at a time.
- Ensure justice and courtesy for all and partiality for none.
- Follow the rule of the majority.
- Preserve the right of the minority to be heard.
Robert’s Rules of Order, Newly Revised is the parliamentary text that governs the PTA where the bylaws do not apply. The president should keep a copy of the current edition handy at all meeting. Bylaws for Local PTA/PTSA Units always take precedence over Robert’s Rules of Order.
Asking for help is not only allowed, it is expected. No one is perfect the first time, or the second either. The president who relaxes and asks for help when necessary sets a congenial tone that helps everyone adapt more easily to parliamentary procedure.
With practice, parliamentary procedure helps PTA members make tough decisions together and remain cordial in the process.
A parliamentarian can be a help to the president when questions of procedure arise. If a parliamentarian is not appointed and ratified, the president should appoint one (pro tem) for each meeting to assist the president in conducting an orderly meeting.
The primary duty of the parliamentarian is to advise the presiding officer on questions of parliamentary law and matters of procedure. The parliamentarian should be assigned a seat near the presiding officer for convenient consultation.
The presiding officer may call on the parliamentarian for advice at any time.When something being done is out of order, the parliamentarian may place a note where the presiding officer can see it.Only with the agreement of the presiding officer or at the request of a member is the parliamentarian permitted to rise and explain a parliamentary point to the assembly. The chair alone has the power to make decisions or rule on points of order. Therefore, after the parliamentarian has given advice, the chair must make the ruling to the assembly. The chair is not obliged to follow the recommendation of the parliamentarian.Any member may appeal the decision of the chair. The appeal requires a second.After explaining the chair’s decision, the chair asks,“Shall the decision of the chair be sustained?” A majority or a tie vote sustains the decision of the chair.
Prior to the meeting, the president may wish to confer with the parliamentarian concerning business on the agenda and on questions that are likely to arise.