dr-rudy-crew_web.jpgMIAMI – The Miami-Dade School Board on Wednesday offered the job of superintendent to current associate superintendent for government affairs Alberto Carvalho. The 43-year-old was considering the offer, as well as a competing one to head the Pinellas County school district.

 



The offer to Carvalho carried the same 5 to 3 board majority that voted earlier Wednesday to approve former Superintendent Rudy Crew's severance package.

Crew was expected to remain on the job through Friday.

Wednesday’s settlement with Crew will give the embattled administrator approximately $368,000 in compensation, including $23,000 in deferred compensation, $14,000 in insurance, $297,000 to buy out the balance of his contract, and $34,000 in accumulated sick leave, vacation pay and miscellaneous compensation.

The settlement gives Crew about half the estimated $700,000 remaining on his contract (his salary is $325,000 per year), but will allow him to leave his position without resigning, which would have given him only 180 days pay and no severance.

The 5 to 3 vote on the severance package, which also mirrored a vote on Monday, Sept. 8 to enter settlement negotiations, ended a four-year stint for Crew that has included triumphs (he was named the 2008 National Superintendent of the Year by the American Association of School Administrators) and controversies, including a struggle with board members over calls to ban a flattering book about Cuba, a sex scandal involving a 14-year-old girl and a star football player at Northwestern High School, and battles over budget and personnel cuts.

Board members accused Crew of insubordination, overspending his budget, and refusing to implement board priorities.

Board Chairman Agustin J. Barrera, Wilbert “Tee’’ Holloway, Dr. Martin Karp, Solomon C. Stinson and Vice Chair Perla Tabares Hantman voted for the settlement, which was negotiated by newly hired district special counsel Murray A. Greenberg, the former Miami-Dade County attorney, and Crew's attorneys, including H.T. Smith.

Three board members, Renier Diaz de la Portilla, Marta Pérez and Ana Rivas Logan voted against the settlement with Crew, and mounted passionate calls for the majority to reject the proposal, and even for the board to take its chances in court.

Crew, a Poughkeepsie, N.Y. native, who celebrated his 58th birthday Wednesday, was not in attendance at the public hearing. He has not commented publicly on the details of his departure, but told the board chair he was ready to go.

"I wish that we were a very wealthy community, but we have $4 million in our contingency," Pérez pleaded prior to the vote. "This is going to cost 10 percent of our contingency. How in good conscience can we approve this?"

De la Portilla argued that Greenberg, whom he called "a self-described mediator, not a litigator" didn't have time and could not have properly assessed whether the board could have dismissed Crew for cause and succeeded against Crew in a lawsuit. He also criticized Barrera, whom he accused of rushing the settlement through to justify giving Crew a buyout, and of inflating the potential costs of a trial.

"How does the chair know that litigation will cost $1 million? How does he know? Did he suddenly become a legal expert in the last 72 hours?"  De la Portilla asked.

"You collectively are my client at this point," said Greenberg, who began the negotiations after Monday's hearing. "If we couldn't come up with something that I thought was good for the board I wouldn't be doing it.’’

Rivas-Logan lamented the division that the battle over Crew's tenure has caused.

"I have never, in all the years I've lived in Miami-Dade County, seen this community so divided," she said. "We need to heal, and we need to move forward."

Rivas Logan also criticized Barrera for allowing a vote before the board's newly elected member, Larry Feldman, who opposes settling with Crew, takes office in November. She also lashed out at the media for allegedly portraying Crew's opponents on the board as a "Cuban mafia," obsessed with pushing Crew out because he refused to ban a book, Vamos a Cuba, which a district parent of Cuban descent found objectionable because of its favorable portrayal of the communist country.

"I would like to point out that I was born in Nicaragua," Rivas Logan said. "Also … may I remind you that I stood with Dr. Crew on Vamos a Cuba, and said we have to have a process. … To say that we are doing this for ulterior motives, please look at the entire picture. I stood with Dr. Crew on many issues and I stood on principle. I stood on this issue on principle, also."

Just before the vote, De la Portilla again laid out his opposition to the plan, calling it fiscally irresponsible, and asking what vetting plan was in place to choose Crew's successor. He then addressed remarks directly to Crew, calling on him to voluntarily forfeit the settlement.

"You will be able to claim that despite the failure of your fiscal management, you can prove that the children were your first priority and not your personal wealth," De la Portilla said. "Resign with honor and let the healing begin."

Barrera shot back that should the board pursue a court case, the board might win or lose, but "either way, in 3 months, at two attorneys at $300 an hour, you will have burned through the settlement amount. The question is, do we want to continue the barrage of attacking the administration, publicly, because that will not allow the community to heal."

After the item passed, Smith thanked the board, saying "I think even those who voted against it realize that it's time to move on. It's time for the board to move on. It's time for Dr. Crew to move on, it's time for the community to move on. It's time for our children to move up."

The board then began taking public comment on several potential Crew successors.

The Rev. Richard Dunn of the civic group People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE) noted that there were no African Americans among the names considered for Crew’s successor.

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Pictured above is Rudy Crew.