Teachers’ union planning loud protest tonight at school board
From the Broward Teacher’s Union
Fed up with corrupt Broward schools officials who unabashedly waste millions of tax dollars on such favorites as rehiring their retired friends and building hundreds of empty classrooms, an estimated 1,000 protestors will surround the K.C. Wright Building, known by some who work in the school system as the “Crystal Palace,” at 5 p.m. today, Tuesday, Nov. 17, in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
BTU President Pat Santeramo said the Three Strikes Protest is planning for hundreds of public employees and community members who have become increasingly disturbed by charges of corruption and ethics violations against Broward schools officials. Despite the arrest of School Board Member Beverly Gallagher, the State of Florida Ethics Commission’s investigation of School Board Member Stephanie Kraft and a federal grand jury’s inquiry into Broward schools infamous construction program, “Superintendent Jim Notter has continued to waste millions of tax dollars under the protective wing of district officials who blindly approve his budgetary decisions and rubber stamp his trampling of employee rights,” said Santeramo.
“Notter loves to do two things,” Santeramo said. “He likes to cry poor every chance he gets except when it comes to rehiring his retired friends or over-building classroom additions and tries to blame ongoing contract negotiations whenever anyone draws attention to his failings. Education professionals and community members should be focusing on student achievement instead of wondering which official the FBI is going to arrest next.”
Santeramo said protestors will focus on the three “strikes” of corruption and ethics violations, waste of taxpayer dollars and the failure of district officials to budget for employee cost of living raises and affordable health insurance. He pointed to Miami-Dade Public Schools and the City of Pembroke Pines Charter Schools as examples of public officials who face the same financial challenges as Broward schools, but have been able to pay employees, provide affordable health insurance, avoid layoffs and respect worker rights.
Unlike Miami-Dade officials who implemented many of the cost savings suggested by school employees, Notter has ignored virtually all of the budget cutting ideas offered by Broward schools education professionals that amount to millions of wasted tax dollars, said Santeramo.
Examples of the employees’ waste cutting ideas include eliminating free legal services to district officials being interviewed by the FBI in its corruption probe of the district, a moratorium on the rehiring of the superintendent’s retired friends who continue to earn top salaries, and discontinuing non-essential travel such as his recently sending half a dozen officials to an awards ceremony in Washington D.C.
Santeramo said employees believe they have no choice but to take the streets in protest because Notter has authorized officials to block employee e-mails to school board members. The union president points out while officials disparagingly refer to the employees’ messages as “spam,” the legal definition of “spam” is unsolicited bulk e-mails. He pointed out the employees’ e-mails to their elected school board members do not meet any of the definitions of “spam” and the employees remain rightfully offended and angered by such references.
“When Notter leaves the Crystal Palace on Tuesday in his Corvette that he pays for with his $900 a month taxpayer funded car allowance, employees and community members will surround the building and loudly voice their opposition to district corruption and waste,” Santeramo said.
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