Minister for Education Adrian Piccoli has told the federation it will not receive further government funding unless it embraces reform. Photo: Tamara Voninski
It is supposed to be the peak body representing the interests of thousands of parents who send their children to public schools.
The council doesn't seem to have the ability to change itself.
But in recent years the NSW Federation of Parents and Citizens Associations has become racked with ''disharmony, disenchantment and dysfunction'', according to a major report, and plagued by bullying and factionalism.
Now it faces the prospect of losing critical public funding.
The Education Minister Adrian Piccoli warned the organisation in early August that it would no longer receive a recurring government grant of about $380,000 unless it got its house in order and broached serious reform.
That ultimatum came more than a year after the release of a report by David Roden, a former official in the Department of Premier and Cabinet, that found the organisation was racked by bullying and self-interest, and risked ''sliding into irrelevance or disintegration'' unless changes were made, including to the organisational structure.
Some of the blame for the problems, the Roden report said, lies with the unwieldy size and power of the state council, which can have up to 108 members and effectively runs the federation.
The report noted many of these councillors are long-serving and no longer have children at school, and that some regarded the trips to Sydney for meetings and conferences as ''pleasant weekends away''.
The federation president Lyall Wilkinson last week took the extraordinary step of asking the minister to personally intervene and amend the federation's constitution, including introducing a new governance model with a small board of elected members who must have children enrolled in a state school, plus one ministerial appointment.
''The council doesn't seem to have the ability to change itself,'' Mr Wilkinson told Fairfax Media.
''Our meetings have been arguing about internal stuff. Some of the biggest changes in education, certainly in my time, have been taking place and we should be debating them and setting positions on them. It's not really happening.''
But in a letter of response, Mr Piccoli told Mr Wilkinson on Wednesday he did not have the power to enact such a change.
''Many records of correspondence received by my office in relation to the operations of and internal issues within the federation state that the federation currently provides 'poor service levels' to its District Councils and school P&C associations,'' he wrote.
''The federation's service provision is unlikely to improve while apparently serious internal issues continue to emerge and remain unresolved."
"I would urge the federation to take all reasonable steps to return the federation to being a functional body.''