Bad Apple

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Toural says her battle with Crew affected her health. She claims she developed high blood pressure and her doctor warned her she could have a stroke. A year later she resigned and filed a grievance. In a letter addressed to the school board, Toural wrote, "My health had steadily deteriorated under the threats and negative treatment of Mr. Crew.... This was the culmination of several months of a concerted pattern of discrimination and desperate treatment by the superintendent against me."

The former number two also accuses Crew of maliciously interfering with her quest for a new job with the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe in fall 2006. The coalition, which pays the school district to provide developmental services for hundreds of preschool children, at first named her the best qualified candidate to become the CEO. But then, Toural contends, Crew called a coalition board member and threatened to stop doing business with the group if she was named to the top job.

Toural filed complaints with the district's civil rights office and with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which were both dismissed. On January 25 she sued Crew in Miami-Dade Circuit Court, claiming he had demonstrated a "persistent discriminatory attitude toward Hispanic females, particularly Cuban-Americans, and his abusive, demeaning, and unfair treatment of women."

That's not all. Before filing her lawsuit, Toural complained to Susan Rothstein, then-director of the civil rights office. Rothstein passed those complaints on to the school board attorney's office.

According to a grievance Rothstein filed July 29, 2005, Crew then reneged on a promise to promote her to assistant superintendent. And finally, on June 15, 2005, the superintendent eliminated Rothstein's position; she was reassigned as a nutritional wellness coordinator, a role with little to no responsibility. She is currently on leave from the district and working for the City of South Miami.

Through his attorney Reginald Clyne, Crew denies he did anything wrong regarding Toural (Clyne couldn't be reached for comment on Rothstein's claims). "Mr. Crew has every right to state to the potential employer that he would not want to work with someone in a close manner who had a pending lawsuit against him," Clyne says.

Dressed in a brown designer suit softened by a powder blue shirt and matching tie, Rudy Crew is perched on the dais of the Miami-Dade County School Board. It's 5:06 p.m. on July 11, and he surveys the scene. There aren't enough seats to accommodate the 300-plus visitors, who spill into the aisles and the hall outside. Most them are students, present and former teachers, and alumni of Miami Northwestern Senior High School.

In the back of the room, TV news camera crews from WFOR, WTVJ, and WPLG are rolling. This is the denouement of the Northwestern drama. Back in September, then-18-year-old star running back Antwain Easterling had intercourse with a 14-year-old ninth-grader inside a girls bathroom at the school. Officials knew about the incident but did not report it to police and allowed Easterling to continuing playing.

Four months later, the girl's mother, fed up with the unresponsive Northwestern staff, complained to the Miami Police Department. On December 7, Easterling was arrested on a felony count of a lewd and lascivious assault on a minor. By then Crew's office knew what the star football player had done, but Easterling was allowed to play in the state championship game anyway.

"Miami Northwestern has been a source of great concern since I came here," Crew says to the crowd, his cadence picking up with each syllable, as if he were a preacher. "As an educator, a former teacher, the part that hurts me the most is that there is a lot of talent at Northwestern."

In the days leading up to the meeting, a rumor has been swirling that Crew will suspend the Liberty City school's vaunted football program. People at the meeting are fuming. "He should suspend himself," hisses one angry Northwestern alum.

"It's a red herring to deflect attention away from wrongdoing on his part," growls another.

To punctuate his words, Crew jabs his left index finger into the podium. He singles out the students in the auditorium, telling them he wants to have a face-to-face meeting with them, no adults. "It is going to be a loving, fatherly conversation," Crew promises. "But it will also be a hard conversation. I am not going to let you fail or let you think you can't do A-plus work."

He says he's tired of "watching Northwestern have a greater number of kids who are locked up rather than looked up to." He's also sick "of watching these kids who are poor attendees on a month-to-month basis. Northwestern just about leads the pack."

By the time Crew wraps up his sermon, he has placed Northwestern's varsity football players on probation and dismissed the team's varsity coaches. He holds up a document with the names of 21 Northwestern school employees who did not report the alleged sex crime. "My intent is that all the people on this list will no longer be there by the fall," intones Crew, theatrically waving a sheet of paper in the air. "They will sit at home and watch everybody else go to work."

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.