Education A State Capitals Roundup

Lawmaker Resigns After Alleged Slur Against Miami Chief

By Michele McNeil — November 03, 2006 1 min read

The Florida lawmaker who led his state’s House education committee has resigned his legislative seat in the wake of allegations that he used a racial slur to describe Miami-Dade County’s black school superintendent and then threatened a fellow lawmaker who filed a complaint against him.

Rafael Arza, a Republican former teacher and state lawmaker since 2000, is also facing criminal charges by the Miami-Dade state’s attorney for allegedly threatening and tampering with a witness.

Mr. Arza resigned his seat last week after many state leaders, including those in his own party such as Gov. Jeb Bush, urged him to do so. His party will choose his replacement.

Mr. Arza’s problems began when a fellow lawmaker filed a House rules complaint against him last month, accusing him of using a racial slur in referring to Miami-Dade County Superintendent Rudolph F. Crew. That lawmaker, Rep. Gustavo A. Barreiro, then allegedly received several obscenity-laced phone calls, which included threats, from Mr. Arza and a cousin, according to media reports.

In a press conference Mr. Arza held last week announcing his resignation, he apologized for leaving the voice mails and urged his party to pick an education reformer and teacher to fill his seat.

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A version of this article appeared in the November 08, 2006 edition of Education Week