In a statement provided to MASSAGE Magazine today, the American Massage Therapy Association officially announced that it had discontinued its Council of Schools (COS) board on Sept. 21.

The AMTA board of directors “made decisions to reflect the evolution of the association’s service to its school and educator members,” the statement read. “The board recognizes the value and importance of massage schools and educators and is always seeking new ways to provide greater support for those AMTA members.”

The action comes on the heels of the creation of a new organization, the Alliance for Massage Therapy Education, which was launched earlier this month. According to alliance Executive Director Rick Rosen, the birth of the new group occurred only after six months had elapsed since the Council of Schools adopted a motion to begin separating from the AMTA and to reform as “an independent and autonomous non-profit organization.” With no action taken on the part of the council, education leaders took matters into their own hands and launched the alliance, he said.

However, today’s statement from the AMTA notes: “AMTA’s decision regarding the COS board is not a response to the recently announced Alliance for Massage Therapy Education. The association looks forward to learning more about the alliance and any possible opportunities for collaboration.”

The AMTA statement offered these additional points:

• At the January 2009 COS meeting a motion was narrowly passed among the 30 school members in attendance regarding an independent, autonomous organization for schools. The proposal for an independent school organization received by the AMTA board in March 2009 requested funding for its creation. Because the alliance proposed does not meet the association’s granting criteria it could not receive AMTA financial support.

• The board of directors voted to amend AMTA bylaws and change its governance structure related to the COS. After input from its Governance Committee and the full support of the Council of Schools board of directors, the AMTA board agreed to discontinue the COS Board.

• The Governance Committee had been given a charge in December 2008 to research the COS infrastructure and how it fits into AMTA infrastructure/culture. This research was carried out by a workgroup of the Governance Committee comprised of committee members, school members and past and current COS board members. To rectify inconsistencies within AMTA governance structure, the workgroup recommended bylaw changes to discontinue the COS Board of Directors and rename the schools membership classification to include educators. On August 6, 2009 the COS Board expressed its agreement with this change.

• The governance change for the COS Board has no effect on AMTA school and educator members and their benefits. The AMTA School membership classification is now called Massage Therapy Schools & Educators.

• School and educator members are encouraged to express their views and submit questions and suggestions to the AMTA board and staff about their member needs. AMTA will use this input in making decisions about forming committees to further serve these members.

• In 1999 an independent council of schools, which long had a relationship with AMTA, decided to become part of AMTA and the AMTA Council of Schools. Currently, there are some 480 School members of AMTA.