New World School of the Arts Musical Group Investigated For Pay-For-Play Claim

Categories: News

Since it opened in 1987, downtown Miami's elite New World School of the Arts has churned out generations of top local artists, from visual geniuses like Hernan Bas to Emmy-winning choreographers like Mia Michaels to playwrights like Tarell Alvin McCraney.

For up-and-coming musical theater stars, the school's über-competitive troupe, the Connection, is the first step toward Broadway. Yet the school district's inspector general is now investigating a complaint that the director, Ron Headrick, cares less about talent than whether parents are willing to pay thousands to send students to a New York summer camp where he teaches. 

"The name 'Connection' is apropos, since most participants are chosen for their parents' connections," the anonymous complaint alleges.

That claim is baseless, says Michael Knauf, director of French Woods, the summer camp in question. He says Headrick, who teaches at the camp, has no financial interest in recruiting students. "I hate to say it, but it sounds like sour grapes to me," Knauf says.

The letter, sent to Miami-Dade County Public Schools superintendent Alberto Carvalho, levels a number of charges at Headrick, who didn't return a call from Riptide.

The instructor chooses students for the Connection based in part on whether they enlist in French Woods, which costs about $4,000 for a three-week camp, or in plays he directs at the Miami Children's Theater, it alleges. Students, in turn, receive prime acting roles and raving letters of recommendation.

"'Less fortunates' spend what should be the best four years of their lives feeling excluded, bitter, and betrayed by... staff members lining their pockets," it says.

Rosa Schechter, counsel for the Children's Theater, says the claim is bogus, though. Headrick has no financial stake in bringing kids into his plays at the theater.

"He doesn't have any ownership interest in the theater," she says. "He's our guest director and we treasure his contributions."

Knauf echos Schechter's sentiments that the complaint doesn't make sense. French Woods actually offers several scholarships to New World students every year, and Headrick doesn't own the camp; he merely works there as a choreography instructor.

"Headrick is a great instructor," he says. "He benefits in no way from getting kids to come to our camp."

Neither MDCPS spokesman John Schuster nor New World principal Evonne Alvarez would comment on the investigation.

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25 comments
NWSAsupporter
NWSAsupporter

NWSA IS a top notch school and I have personally been involved with the school for over 12 years.  What NWSAMom says about the real world is true.  On the other hand, this article implies that all students are not getting the same opportunities by staff members. High school isn't yet the real world and MDCPS employees are committed and required to give all students equal treatment, and can be reprimanded and even fired if they discriminate for any reason.  If it's true that some students are receiving "prime acting roles and raving letters of recommendation" because of their parents' connections or financial involvement, that is wrong no matter how you look at it, and it should be changed.  What's the difference between those parents and the ones she assumes wrote a letter?  (I got the impression it was a student or students who wrote the letter who seemed afraid of the consequences if they signed their names but I digress). Is that "stepping out of the way and letting the professionals do their job"?  It sounds like, fortunately, her child is not one of the 'less fortunates' the article wrote about.  Good for her.  These kids have to audition to get into NWSA so they are all talented.  All the article is pointing out is that students are feeling "excluded, bitter and betrayed" because they are not getting the same opportunities if their parents don't have connections or money.  That is something that should be brought out into the open and dealt with.  And yes, NWSAMom, perhaps THOSE parents should step aside and let their kids deal with the "real world".

Silly
Silly

Slow news week.

NWSAMom
NWSAMom

New World is a training ground for the real world...which means that not every child will get a trophy, not every child will have the lead and not every child will get to perform. Think about your own work places. There are those folks who shouldn't hold the positions they do and there are others who continually get overlooked - that's life, deal with it. As parents of these young adults we need to start learning to step out of our kid's way, let them fall if they have to - pick them up when they are ready and let the professionals do their jobs. The staff and administration of the school are top notch - now let them do what they do best and stop showing your kid what a sore loser you are! I wish this child only the best and hope that they don't think that what their parent did by sending an anonymous letter and trying to discredit Mr. Ron Headrick  will get something. Would you rather deserve/earn it or do you want your mommy get it for you because of her threats? Work hard, have faith and let what's supposed to happen happen. Ron YOU ROCK!!!

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

So MY TAX DOLLARS HAVE......

"Since it opened in 1987, downtown Miami's elite New World School of the Arts has churned out generations of top local artists, from visual geniuses like Hernan Bas to Emmy-winning choreographers like Mia Michaels to playwrights like Tarell Alvin McCraney."

 

In other words.......Unproductive members of society that nobody has heard of

Loca
Loca

 @Anthonyvop1 

1. Your tax dollars are also used to fund other hobbies like football, basketball, soccer and cheerleading. It's been proven that kids involved in extra-curricular activities do very well in school. So, save some of your hate for the sports pages.

2. Your tax dollars go to fund the ACADEMIC portion of the school. Most of the arts programs are funded through partnerships, such as the partnership the school has with Miami Dade College and the University of Florida. 

 

Do some research before you spout off without knowing what you are talking about..

jimmiegreens
jimmiegreens

 @Anthonyvop1 Obviously you have no knowledge of the art world. You need to do some homework before you post.

NWSAAlum
NWSAAlum

That comment is straight up ignorant. Try looking up Tarell McCraney and see how his work has been doing. Also look up who the creative director of the Alvin Ailey Dance Company is. Also look up the artistic efforts of Paul Tei. Also look up the Borscht Film Festival.

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

 @Loca 

I would like to see sports like Football cut.  It is a hobby that makes millionaires of a few and illiterates for the majority.

Public school should only offer a basic art curriculum equally to everyone.  After that let them pay for their hobby.

 

Let me ask you...Where is the publicly funded "New World School of Business"?  Where is the millions of tax dollar funding for teaching our kids about the Free Market? 

 

I am demanding equal funding.  It is only fair.  And aren't you people all about Fair?

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

 @NWSAAlum Great.

More power to them.

I don't ask you to pay for my hobbies so just stop forcibly taking my money to pay for it!  

mika.rosenberg
mika.rosenberg

 @Anthonyvop1 

your dreams are worth no more than a pack of cigarettes. all these kids represent the future and beauty left in our world. your just rusted metal. 

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

 @Loca No link was there and none of those school provide a dedicated Free market business curriculum.

None! Zip, Zilch! Nada!

 

Loca
Loca

 @Anthonyvop1 

Coral Reef, Miami Beach Sr., Robert Morgan, South Dade, and Turner Tech. 5. 5 schools with dedicated Business Magnet Programs.

Loca
Loca

 @Anthonyvop1 

I wasn't even personally insulting you, I meant it. The list I provided includes MANY Miami Magnet schools with dedicated Business programs. Do you not see them??

Loca
Loca

 @Anthonyvop1 

And when arguing with GOPers it's important to note that "Facts Don't Matter" to them. :)

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

 @Loca Rule # 1 of how to argue like a liberal.

 

     When faced with logic and reason destroying your premise just switch to personal insults.

Loca
Loca

 @Anthonyvop1 

I see you also lack in reading skills. Explains a lot.

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

 @Loca And yet there is none dedicated to creating future free market entrepreneurs.

   Why is that?  Hmmmmmmmm?

Loca
Loca

 @Anthonyvop1 

There are Magnet schools of all colors and stripes.

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

 @jimmiegreens Why would I want to donate to a corrupt organization like Miami-Dade County Public Schools?

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

 @jimmiegreens 

I don't ask you to pay for my entertainment.  Why should you demand that I pay for yours?

jimmiegreens
jimmiegreens

 @Anthonyvop1 Everything around you is created, designed engineered... you watch tv? listen to music? Hey, someone's "hobby" was to create this website too, right?

Anthonyvop1
Anthonyvop1 topcommenter

 @jimmiegreens Of course it is a Hobby!  

    I know it will be hard for your pretentious, self-absorbed, brain to grasp but art serves no purpose except to entertain.

  Get all outraged and insulted as your types always do when confronted with the facts...You know I am right.

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