In its first election since being rocked by scandal, Broward’s teachers union elected a new president on Tuesday.
Parkland Middle School teacher and executive board member Sharon Glickman will lead the 12,000-member union into the future.
The lopsided vote, in which Glickman received more than two-thirds of the total, signaled a clean break with the leadership team of former union President Pat Santeramo.
Santeramo was arrested in July on charges he stole about $300,000 from the Broward Teachers Union through a combination of vendor kickbacks and fraudulently inflated sick and vacation time.
Glickman’s opponent in Tuesday’s runoff election was a longtime Santeramo loyalist, Bernie Schultz. Schultz tried to distance herself from Santeramo during the campaign, but she had previously stood by his side as evidence against him began to mount.
“The members told us they want the BTU to move forward with honesty, integrity and change,” a victorious Glickman said in a statement late Tuesday. “I humbly thank all the members and will have an open-door policy for them.”
Glickman had been part of a small but vocal group of union board members who — sensing something was wrong — repeatedly questioned Santeramo about the union’s finances. As Santeramo’s explanations continued to ring false, Glickman and the other board members penned a letter to the BTU’s parent organization, asking for an outside investigation. The American Federation of Teachers responded by performing a thorough, and ultimately scathing, audit that found irregularities such as Santeramo charging $128,600 in unexplained expenses to union credit cards, and signing off on $25,000 in union checks made out to “cash.”
Months later, Santeramo was arrested.
The alleged theft occurred during a period of deep budgetary pain for the school district. Teachers are now poised to receive a 2 percent raise - their first in more than four years. As Santeramo enjoyed free access to union funds, teachers were experiencing layoffs and unpaid furlough days.
BTU administrator John Tarka, appointed by the parent organization to run the union during its past year of financial upheaval, praised Glickman as “an excellent and experienced leader.”
“She surely will serve the BTU’s members well,” Tarka said.