I don’t expect Rudolph “Rudy” Crew will ever respond to my requests to interview him. However, I recently went the extra mile to catch Miami-Dade’s public schools superintendent at his ninth floor office inside the school district headquarters at 1450 NE Second Avenue. This past November 14, I personally delivered Crew a letter requesting comment on the plight of Patrick Williams, a 41-year-old Miami-Dade County Public Schools teacher. I also included a copy of my first article for his review.
To recap: This past October 19, Williams was removed from his job at William H. Turner Technical High, where he teaches AP Spanish. When Williams had problems with his boss, Principal Valmarie Rhoden, she accused the Jamaican-born educator of harassing her and complained to the school board agency that investigates administrative complaints against employees.
Schools spokesman John Schuster informed me that Crew and other district officials would not comment on Williams while he remained under investigation. I didn’t expect the superintendent would answer my questions, but I wanted him to know how wrongly Rhoden was treating Williams. He is a teacher that the school district should be plastering on all its advertisements. He is fluent in seven languages, is working toward his Ph.D at the University of Miami, takes his students on European trips during the summer, and most importantly, provides phenomenal leadership and guidance to the children he teaches. Don’t take my word for it, just read the comments by his former and current students on our Web site.
Apparently, Crew wasn’t thrilled that an ink-stained interloper had infiltrated past the first floor defenses. On November 20, I stopped by the ninth floor again, where maintenance crews were busy putting the finishing touches on two new security doors in the hallway just outside Crew’s office. The doors can only be opened by using a security card from the outside or a buzzer operated from inside the office. Cost to taxpayers: $3,500. And add in a security guard slouched in a chair at the end of the hallway, keeping any unknown visitors from going in.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not insinuating Crew is afraid of me. In fact, Schuster explained that the door installation “was part of ongoing security improvements to the school board administration building initiated last year.” But Crew is under the impression that people are out to get him. Earlier this year, he reported to Miami Police that his office had received threatening phone calls and voice-mail messages. He also informed School Board members that he was taking extra security measures to protect himself.
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My problem is Crew’s indifference to the kids who are no longer benefiting from Williams’ positive influence. He’s more worried about unwanted guests walking into his taxpayer-funded office than going to bat for a man who has dedicated 18 years of his life to improve the lives of children growing up in Miami-Dade. Now is that really the way to save our schools? -- Francisco Alvarado