The Baltimore Teachers Union elections committee plans to schedule a new election after allegations of campaign violations marred the vote earlier this month.
Middle school teacher Diamonté Brown defeated incumbent Marietta English on May 15 by a 901-839 margin. English, seeking her ninth term to lead the city’s nearly 7,000 educators, immediately announced she would challenge the preliminary results.
Both English and Brown have said this election was riddled with issues, including allegations of voter suppression, improper campaigning and procedures favoring the incumbent.
In a brief letter sent to English on Tuesday, the chairs of the elections committee wrote it had “completed its investigation of the alleged violations that occurred during the campaign and on Election Day … and determined that a new election should be scheduled.” They wrote they would contact English with a new date for the election, but did not include any details on what allegations they investigated.
Elections co-chair Tom Frasier did not immediately respond Thursday to a request for comment.
Brown’s slate won the majority of the teacher positions on the union’s executive board, while English’s team swept all the paraprofessional spots. The new vote concerns the Teacher Chapter, the letter states.
The elections committee was appointed by English’s executive board, leading some teachers to view them as biased in her favor. English has said that although the reigning union leadership had chosen the committee members, she separated herself from their work because she was running.
English said in a statement that her team had reported “egregious violations” since the beginning of the campaign, but was ignored. She said teachers were outraged about being “aggressively approached at their worksites and more dangerously had their personal home addresses accessed, and were visited at their homes” by members of The Union We Deserve slate, which Brown led.
“We are encouraged that the voices of the membership will finally be heard,” she said.
The Union We Deserve leadership declined to comment.
This slate, representing an outspoken group of educators looking to challenge the status quo, has also said there were numerous problems during the campaign.
The Union We Deserve supporters accused the union’s elections committee of attempting to suppress the vote by limiting voting hours and locations, and denying the majority of absentee ballot requests. They also say educators had to use a confusing ballot that favored English’s team. And at the end of election day, election observers at Edmondson-Westside High School were kicked out by officials at Elections USA, the outside group that ran the election, leaving the process with limited oversight.
Baltimore Teachers Union elections have long been plagued by similar allegations.
English first assumed the union presidency in 1998 but was ousted by Sharon Blake during the next election. Blake’s victory hinged on two votes.
The American Federation of Teachers stepped in, and ordered the union to dismiss the results. In the new election, Blake defeated English by 23 votes.
English ran again the next election cycle and has led the union ever since.
The AFT said Thursday it hasn’t received any formal complaints about the most recent election, but that the local union has the ability to hold a re-do without AFT involvement.
The news has left teachers across the city frustrated. They say the union elections — which are held on just one day, primarily during school hours — don’t feel like they’re conducted with educators in mind.
And while they wait for a new election, they say, they feel like important issues will be ignored.
“The work that needs to happen is being delayed,” said educational associate Meghan Holly. “Teachers need support, and here we are still fighting over elections.”