Bad Apple

Miami-Dade schools superintendent Rudy Crew has made many mistakes. Maybe too many.

Meanwhile Crew has reassigned Vangates to another post: director of performance management, curriculum, and instruction. So the woman who allegedly hampered a criminal investigation will now hold sway over how teachers instruct their students.


Several hours after the camera crews and Northwestern acolytes left the school board chambers, Crew ran into a buzz saw when members began discussing his annual performance bonus. Board member Evelyn Greer proposed a figure of $41,000. Those present deadlocked.

Then Renier Diaz de la Portilla suggested Crew receive $20,000. That didn't go anywhere either. "A 420 percent increase in the number of F schools is simply not acceptable," said Rivas Logan. Later she added, "Personally I want to put [Crew] on notice. There has to be a consequence."

Responds Crew supporter and board chairman Agustin Barrera: "Sometimes we all get frustrated. I remember just four years ago the district was in disrepair. We had a state oversight board watching us. I think we are going in the right direction. One of our biggest challenges has been leadership in our schools. Dr. Crew addressed that."

While the school board continues to discuss the superintendent's merits, it appears he is looking for a new job.

Of course he is well paid. Under his current package, Crew receives $315,000. And the school district provides a pension and health benefits, reimburses his travel expenses, and even pays a $1200 stipend for his home office, from Internet service to computer equipment. (Back in 2004, to woo the superintendent, millionaire and onetime school board member Paul Cejas gave Crew a $240,000 loan to help pay for his $840,000 three-bedroom house in Coconut Grove.)

He apparently wants even more. According to news reports in Miami and Washington, D.C., Crew was not long ago the leading candidate to replace D.C. Superintendent Clifford Janey. On April 11, former Miami New Times columnist Jim DeFede reported on his WINZ-AM (940) radio program that D.C. was willing to pay Crew between $600,000 and $900,000 to lure him away from Miami-Dade. Crew, a guest on the show, responded, "There are other school districts. Certainly the Washington, D.C. scenario is very real."

Later that evening, during his television segment on CBS 4, DeFede said losing Crew would be bad for the county. "Personally I hope Crew stays," he rhapsodized. "He has done an amazing job, and if the numbskull politics of Miami-Dade ends up running him off, it will be a long time before we attract someone of his quality to take on that job."

Seven days later, a lengthy letter Cejas wrote supporting the superintendent was published in the editorial pages of the Miami Herald. Cejas blared, "Under the stewardship of the school board and the management of Superintendent Rudy Crew, our school system has gone from the brink of being taken over by the state to becoming a model system in our nation."

As it turned out, D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty passed on Crew in favor of a local candidate. But that doesn't mean the Miami superintendent isn't still angling for more money. Indeed the school board might take a new vote on his bonus August 1, as this paper goes to print.

Says school board member Rivas Logan: "The contract we gave Rudy is being used to train school boards what not to do. No one is going to pay him what we pay him."

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