An investigation into the Baltimore Teachers Union election found that a few members of the newly elected president’s caucus used some school resources to promote the campaign, but ruled the violations were “minor” and didn’t change the results.
The American Federal of Teachers affirmed Diamonté Brown as the winner on Thursday, rejecting losing candidate Marietta English’s challenge and petition to hold a new election. The AFT report, obtained by The Baltimore Sun, cited violations by the Union We Deserve caucus, which Brown is a part of, such as using employer email and facilities for campaign purposes.
In one instance, the report said, a member of Brown’s caucus sent out a notice promoting a union campaign event on her school email. The AFT report also found the that Brown’s caucus sponsored two events on school property. The third violation involved two delegates of Brown’s caucus participating as an observer in the balloting process.
“While the [the Union We Deserve] caucus did commit violations of the election rules,” the report said, “we find that these violations did not affect the outcome of the election.”
The AFT concluded that, “these violations appear minor in their scope."
The report marks an end to a contentious election season between Brown and the incumbent, English, who has held the position for more than 20 years.
English issued a statement before the results were officially announced and called the decision to not pursue a re-election “an injustice to our union.” She said the AFT report “clearly lays out that egregious violations took place during the election process and I strongly disagree with the conclusion that even with these violations a new election would not be held."
English lost the election held in May by a vote of 901 to 839. At the time, she claimed the election was riddled with rules violations and said she could not concede.
In May, the Progressive caucus, which English is part of, wrote to the BTU Nominations and Elections Committee, accusing Brown’s caucus of election misconduct.
The letter included a number of complaints, but only a few were found to be violations in the AFT’s final investigation. The AFT concluded that the other accusations, such as early campaigning, criticizing other candidates and house visits were all permitted under the AFT and BTU constitutions.
When asked about how this election would affect her relationship with English, Brown said, “We have a good relationship, and I hope to continue to work with her.”
Brown will lead a divided union. The executive board is split between teachers and paraprofessionals. Her slate captured the majority of teacher positions, but the English Slate took all the paraprofessional spots, according to the preliminary results. The English Slate’s teacher candidates are all also challenging the election results.
“There have been a number of challenges to the election process with each side demanding fairness,” Brown said at a news conference Thursday, “and the challenges reaffirm that we are committed to the democratic process.
“Now we will work together to advance members’ interest,” Brown said.
As the new president, Brown told The Baltimore Sun, her top goals will be to increase membership engagement, fight for equity and increase partnerships between the teaching professions, such as teachers and paraprofessionals.
Brown said her first action will be to speak with the entire paraprofessional slate one-on-one to “listen to what they have to say and use that to guide us toward being a united front.”