Marta Perez Demands an Explanation

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Miami-Dade School Board member Marta Perez is suing Rudy Crew for rejecting four of her proposed items from the agenda of a December 2006 school board meeting. In case you were curious about what merits such a costly legal battle (Crews’ Tallahassee attorney makes $320 and hour, and the lawsuit could cost the district more than $100,000, according to the Herald), here is a summary of said items:

-- If a contractor is allowed to bypass the formal bidding process, Perez wants a written explanation.

-- If Crew hires, fires, or transfers anyone without board approval, Perez wants a written explanation. She also says that such moves must then be retroactively approved by the board.

-- If Crew offers a new hire a salary more than ten percent above the minimum pay grade, Perez wants the board to approve it. (As it stands now, the superintendent can authorize an applicant’s hire above the minimum pay grade providing the applicant is “exceptionally qualified for the position and/or recruiting efforts have failed to fill a position at entry level.”) Perez also wants to step up recruiting efforts for cheaper hires.

-- Perez wants to create a new school board committee that can gather information from staff and “other stakeholders” without fulfilling the quorum of five members present. “The intent of this proposal is not to circumvent existing rules, but to facilitate and streamline the process whereby board members can receive information,” says her proposal.

The above items can be interpreted a number of ways: Either Perez thinks the Miami-Dade County Public Schools could use some more checks and balances, or she downright doesn’t trust Crew to make good decisions regarding hiring and firing. It seems that if she were really worried about the budget impact of unnecessary salary expenditures she could probably find a more frugal way to resolve this issue.

The superintendent rejected Perez’s items in a Dec. 6 memo that contends Florida state law and school board rules make him the man in charge. “I believe these items fall outside of the purview of the School Board and are purely administrative,” he wrote, inviting her to schedule a meeting to discuss the issues individually.

According to the Herald, Perez has not met with Crew since October. --Emily Witt

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