[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

a493: Amid debate, Till holds off on pick for diversity chief (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Published Wednesday, January 16, 2002

Amid debate, Till holds off on pick for diversity chief

Amid brewing discontent in Broward's black and Haitian communities, Broward
Schools Superintendent Frank Till on Tuesday held off recommending a
Hispanic woman as the district's new executive director of Diversity and
Equal Education.

The appointment of Maria de L. Rodriguez is controversial because Till's
original choice, in December, was a Haitian-American former college
professor whose hiring was nixed after it had been announced.

Till put his recommendation on hold after several people complained that
Rodriguez, current coordinator for diversity and cultural outreach, last
year spent school district money on printer cartridges for home use. Dorsey
Miller, Rodriguez's former boss, wrote Rodriguez a memo asking her to refund
the money.

Many opponents of Rodriguez said they support Till's original choice for
diversity chief: Antoine Auguste, a former professor at Florida Memorial
College and current city manager in the Panhandle city of Gretna, Fla.

But Auguste, who attended the meeting, told Till and the School Board he had
decided to withdraw as a candidate.

``It would clearly be impossible for me to work with Dr. Till,'' said
Auguste, following his remarks to the board. ``It's possible this is a fight
that could have been continued, but I don't want to be part of the
polarization of Broward County.''

Last month, Till had recommended Auguste for the job, which has been vacant
since Miller resigned more than three months ago. A few weeks later, Till
changed his mind, saying Auguste was not ``forthright'' in his interview
about when he left Florida Memorial College.

Till's switch from Auguste to Rodriguez raised the ire of several community
activists, who criticized him for pitting the Hispanic and Haitian
communities against each other.

``I think he owes an apology to both the Hispanic and Haitian communities,''
said Margaret Armand, a Fort Lauderdale Haitian-American activist. ``This
has been very divisive.''

Board member Lois Wexler said it appeared Till treated Auguste and Rodriguez
differently. When questions surfaced about Auguste's résumé, Till withdrew
his recommendation. When questions arose about Rodriguez's purchase of
computer printer cartridges, Till simply deferred the issue, she said.

``I don't know what the truth is,'' Wexler said. ``But both should be
treated the same way.''

Till countered that the discrepancies in Auguste's résumé were serious
enough to pull the nomination and that the questions about Rodriguez and the
printer cartridges were minor and would be resolved quickly.

Board member Stephanie Kraft urged the board to seek new candidates. But
Till argued Auguste and Rodriguez are far more qualified than the other
candidates who applied, making it unnecessary to post the job again.

Several people expressed disappointment about Auguste's decision to bow out.

``I feel Dr. Auguste was the most qualified person,'' said Ernestine Price,
a Pompano Beach resident and community activist.

``In Broward County, we need someone who's going to pay attention to
everything and has the experience, knowledge and credentials.''

Herald staff writer Steve Harrison contributed to this report.

MSN Photos is the easiest way to share and print your photos: