Under Pressure, PTA President Quits Day Job 

Facing pressure to tone down her recent criticism of Richmond Schools administration, the president of the Richmond PTA is resigning from her day job as a coordinator for the nonprofit Communities in Schools.

Tichi Pinkney-Eppes, who has worked since the beginning of the school year for the nonprofit, which does considerable outreach in city schools, says she decided to leave the job after a dust-up last week with her bosses over a scheduled meeting with Mayor L. Douglas Wilder.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a PTA proposal to end acrimony between the School Board and Wilder. The proposal included three suggested school closings that Pinkney-Eppes says were lifted from previous School Board proposals.

She was informed by CIS that she wouldn't be allowed to attend the meeting. The reason for her boss's objections, Pinkney-Eppes says, was concern about her taking time away from her job for PTA business. But she says she has reason to believe there was political pressure from Richmond School Board administration officials on her CIS bosses that prevented the meeting.

"I'm giving them two weeks and I'm out," says Pinkney-Eppes. "I'm not playing those kinds of games."

Bill Hefty, whose tenure as chairman of CIS is drawing to a close, says he hopes Pinkney-Eppes will remain with the organization. CIS acts as a coordinator between individual schools and various volunteer and business organizations in the community to augment services available to students.

"Her status is she is employed," Hefty says. "Tichi is a very good employee. We have no problem with her being PTA president."

Hefty says he was unaware that CIS management had restrained Pinkney-Eppes -- and certainly was not aware that she was being prevented from attending the meeting with the mayor.

He says Pinkney-Eppes will not have further issues with CIS administration limiting her activities as PTA president, so long as she takes personal time off when those activities conflict with her job. "I don't have a problem with anything she did at all," he says.

Though she says she received Hefty's assurances that future PTA business would not be curtailed, she says she's not taking any chances.

"Are [schools administrators] going to come back to CIS and say, 'There she goes again. She's your employee, so what are you going to do about her?'" posits Pinkney-Eppes, who left an advocacy job with the state Attorney General's Office last year after an unsolicited job offer from CIS.

But the CIS day job, she says, is not her passion. That remains with the PTA: "I got into this to save some kids."

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