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A recap of upheaval at Broward Teachers Union

In case you missed it last week, Broward Teachers Union President Pat Santeramo may be stripped of his power following a scathing internal audit that uncovered financial mismanagement. The national American Federation of Teachers union appointed an administrator last week to oversee the BTU for the next six months.

Today, the Herald's editorial board weighed in. And Laura Figueroa delved into how Santeramo controlled the union's purse strings:

The launch of state investigations, the results of an internal audit and questions from dues-paying members of the Broward Teacher’s Union indicate that President Pat Santeramo held a virtual stronghold over the union’s finances, with little oversight.

Two of the union’s key finance officers — a longtime bookkeeper and its comptroller for the past year — wouldn’t comment on how expenditures went unchecked. The union has hired a top criminal defense attorney to look into its exposure after allegations that Santeramo reimbursed union employees and their relatives a combined $19,500 for campaign contributions.

Kendall Coffey, a former U.S. attorney, is representing the union and said he will work with the union’s leadership to establish guidelines for it’s future political finance activity.

In 10 years at the helm, Santeramo, a former music and physical education teacher, has surrounded himself with allies on the executive board and staff.

BTU elections are structured so that candidates must run on slates — a team of candidates — making it difficult for outsiders or anyone looking to run independently to get on the board.

“It’s set up for longevity,” said Phil Van Pelt, a retired Coral Springs High School teacher who ran for the executive board on a losing slate of opposition candidates in 2001. “You have a situation where you set up presidents for life.”

Full story here.

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