Teaching Profession

D.C. Union Leader Sentenced To Nine-Year Prison Term

By Julie Blair — February 11, 2004 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

As Barbara A. Bullock prepares to serve nine years in federal prison for her crimes against the Washington Teachers Union, members say they are forging ahead with the rebuilding of the 5,000-member organization.

The former president of the District of Columbia teachers’ group, who admitted to embezzling $4.6 million from union coffers from 1995 to 2002 and was sentenced late last month, is required to pay the money back, said Channing Phillips, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Roscoe C. Howard Jr. After she completes her term, the 65-year-old must spend three years under supervised release and complete 3,000 hours of community service, Mr. Phillips added.

Barbara A. Bullock

Ms. Bullock pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy and mail fraud in October. (“D.C. Union Leader Admits to Bilking Funds,” Oct. 15, 2003.)

Her lawyer did not return a call for comment last week.

Ms. Bullock told the judge at her Jan. 30 sentencing hearing that she was “deeply remorseful,” according to The Washington Post. She added that she was afflicted with bipolar disorder, and in part blamed that condition for perpetuating her high- class shopping habit. She spent much of the money she stole from the WTU on designer clothing and furs.

Educators in the nation’s capital said they had little sympathy for what they saw as an excuse and a pattern of betrayal. “Consequences are consequences,” said William F. Rope, who teaches 3rd grade at H.D. Cooke Elementary School. “She’s the past now.”

Some See Inequity

But other teachers in the city suggested that Ms. Bullock was not treated fairly in comparison with other white-collar criminals.

For example, the longtime leader of United Teachers of Dade in Miami, Pat L. Tornillo Jr., was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison after pleading guilty last year to defrauding a union and making false statements on his tax returns. He is also required to repay the $650,000 he stole from the union and pay a fine.

“The inequity bothers me,” said Elizabeth A. Davis, who teaches technology at John Philip Sousa Middle School in Washington. “I really hesitate to say it is a fair sentence.”

Many educators in the city, though, say they are eager to move on with union work and to regain control of their local union, which was taken over by the American Federation of Teachers soon after the scandal broke in 2002. (“Union Local Loses Control of Operations,” Jan. 29, 2003.)

Under federal law, the AFT must return the WTU to local officials’ control within 18 months of that action—this July.

“I think more than anything, [the sentencing] brought one phase to closure,” said George Parker, a math teacher at Eliot Junior High School. “There are so many things to move forward with.”

Related Tags:

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Classroom Technology Webinar How Pandemic Tech Is (and Is Not) Transforming K-12 Schools
The COVID-19 pandemic—and the resulting rise in virtual learning and big investments in digital learning tools— helped educators propel their technology skills to the next level. Teachers have become more adept at using learning management

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Teaching Profession Opinion Advice to New Teachers From a 20-Year Veteran
These seven lessons are especially important during the pandemic, and they will continue to serve you through the rest of your teaching career.
Stephen Guerriero
4 min read
Illustration of hands holding up lightbulbs representing ideas.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and Feodora Chiosea/iStock
Teaching Profession Joe and Jill Biden Honor Teachers at Long-Delayed White House Ceremony
The president, with the first lady in attendance, called teachers the "single most consequential people in the world beyond our parents."
4 min read
First lady Jill Biden hugs Juliana Urtubey, 2021 National Teacher of the Year, at a ceremony to honor the 2021 State and National Teachers of the Year, on the South Lawn of the White House Oct. 18.
First lady Jill Biden stands beside Juliana Urtubey, 2021 National Teacher of the Year, at a ceremony to honor the 2020 and 2021 State and National Teachers of the Year at the White House on Monday.
Evan Vucci/AP
Teaching Profession Opinion Wellness Can't Be Just Another Task for Teachers to Do
If we want teachers to remain in the profession, state departments of education, school districts, and parent groups must step up.
Beth Pandolpho
4 min read
Vibrant hand drawn illustration depicting mindfulness concept
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
Teaching Profession Thousands of Teachers Who Were Denied Loan Forgiveness Will Get a Second Chance
A settlement between the American Federation of Teachers and the U.S. Department of Education establishes a review process for borrowers.
4 min read