WALLINGFORD — Actions by Board of Education member Tammy Raccio during a PTO election last year led to changes in the group’s bylaws.
Raccio attended the Highland-Yalesville Elementary Schools (HYES) PTO meeting on May 9, 2018, the evening of the group’s executive board election for the 2018-19 school year.
She purchased memberships that evening for her husband, Joseph Raccio III, and her two sons, ages 17 and 10 at the time, who then voted in the election.
Raccio’s actions caused concern for then-PTO vice president Shannon Sorvillo, who sent an email that night to Superintendent of Schools Salvatore Menzo about the incident.
“PTO is a family membership,” Sorvillo said to Menzo. “Everyone is allowed one ballot. But she paid for a membership for each, including minors, to try and sway an election her way...Despicable.”
Sorvillo also claimed that Raccio “exchanged inappropriate words” with several people and was “hostile, combative and highly inappropriate for an elected official.”
Raccio declined to comment, saying she attended the PTO meeting as a parent and it had nothing to do with her position on the school board.
Raccio recently switched political parties and intends to run for re-election to the Board of Education this fall as a Republican.
PTO president says no wrongdoing
Current PTO President Nilvio Perez said that at the time, the structure of the PTO bylaws allowed purchasing memberships at any time, and there was “nothing wrong” with Raccio’s actions.
However, amendments to the group’s bylaws were introduced at the next PTO meeting.
“She wanted them to vote, but not for herself,” Perez said. “She brought her family members with her and paid for them that evening. All four of them did participate in the vote.”
The new rules put a deadline on when a membership had to be paid for in order to participate in the executive board election, and added an age requirement as well.
“We didn’t feel it was right for children under the age of 18 to be able to vote,” Perez said.
The bylaw amendments were proposed in October 2018 and passed in November 2018, according to meeting minutes.
Current HYES bylaws state community members who are not parents, guardians or teachers may become members if they have an interest in “providing services, volunteering their time or financial support to the PTO.”
The bylaws also state that PTO members must be at least 18 years old to vote in executive board elections, held annually in May, and that they must join by Dec. 31 before the next spring’s election.
Perez said that although there was concern and even outrage after the meeting, he doesn’t recall there “being much during the meeting.”
“The meeting was cordial, the agenda items were ran through, the votes were counted,” he said.
That evening was, however, “the last time Tammy came to one of our meetings,” Perez said.
Raccio also served on the school district-wide Parent Teacher Advisory Council.
Highland and Fritz are one of four pairs of sister elementary schools in Wallingford. Highland houses students in grades K-2, and Fritz grades 3-5. Fritz was called Yalesville School until 2017.