Broward News

Broward Teachers Union President Under Investigation; Board Members Split on Action

Pat Santeramo, president of the Broward Teacher's Union, is currently under investigation by the Broward State Attorney's Office and the Broward Sheriff's Office, according to a spokesman from the State Attorney's Office.

Additionally, a spokesman from the Broward Teacher's Union says the Federal Elections Commission has begun an "inquiry" into both the union and Santeramo after the FEC received a formal complaint against them.

John Ristow, director of communications at the teacher's union, says his office has received notice from the State Attorney's Office that its investigation into Santeramo surrounds "allegedly improper candidate contributions."

When asked whether the criminal investigation was just looking into Santeramo, Ron Ishoy -- the spokesman for the State Attorney's Office -- said the investigation is "focused" on Santeramo.

Since news of the investigation broke, the union has been pretty busy trying to figure out how to rectify the situation as best as possible.

An email sent out to the union's executive board of directors -- signed by four members of the board -- called for Santeramo's expulsion by the board at its next meeting.

Ristow says that opinion certainly isn't uniform among all the board members.

"There seems to be some disagreement about how to go about it," he says.

Moreover, the board will be meeting at 4:30 p.m. today to discuss recommendations put forth by the American Federation of Teachers after it completed what was apparently a damning report (it hasn't been released to the public) regarding the union's finances.

The board adopted many of the recommendations last week, including agreeing to appoint a financial manager from the American Federation of Teachers to watch over the union's finances, operating independently but reporting to both agencies, Ristow says.

Ristow says this financial manager is supposed to watch over how the finances work in the union, implement some training programs, and do some other things "so that what has allegedly happened with apparent campaign contribution violations never happens again."

He adds that the board's top priority is to inform all of the union's members about what's happened and answer any questions they might have.

And, of course, they'll be discussing a motion to vote on Santeramo's expulsion; however, Ristow says, "The discussion will certainly focus on making sure that President Pat Santeramo is afforded the same protections of due process that any Broward Teachers Union member receives."

Ishoy can't provide any more details on the ongoing investigation into Santeramo, and Ristow says the union has been asking its members to cooperate fully with representatives of either the FEC or the State Attorney's Office.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley