Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
College instructor on leave after threats
PALM BEACH POST
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The Florida Atlantic University instructor who asked students to step on a piece of paper with "Jesus" written on it as part of a communications class exercise has been placed on leave by the university, not for his conduct but for safety reasons.
Lisa Metcalf, director of media relations for FAU, released a statement Friday afternoon saying that Deandre Poole "has been placed on administrative leave effective immediately for safety reasons. As a result of the reaction to a recent exercise in Dr. Poole's intercultural communications class, the instructor's personal safety has been compromised."
Metcalf said the decision also "will prevent further disruption to the day-to-day operations of Florida Atlantic University."
Metcalf said FAU has no police reports but other agencies might be investigating. Poole will continue to be paid by FAU, Metcalf said.
Susan Reilly, a colleague of Poole's in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies, said the department has "received all kinds of horrible threats."
"They're awful, racist and threatening to hurt him. It's very bad," Reilly said. "They're acting like he's the villain and he's not."
Poole is vice chairman of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party. John Ramos, state Democratic committeeman and friend of Poole, said Friday that the Democratic Party office also has received threatening calls, which have been forwarded to the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office.
"He's not picking up his phone. I've heard that he has been threatened," Ramos said. "This whole thing is totally preposterous. If you know the man you'd know he's a good Christian man, a bright, intelligent church-goer. He's a very honorable man and I feel so bad for him."
Terrie Rizzo, chair of the Palm Beach County Democratic Party, said the party has received dozens of "racist and vile" phone calls and emails and that the sheriff's office "took it seriously and they're concerned."
Last week, FAU released a statement saying Poole was "a non-tenured instructor on an annual appointment" and that "no students were forced to take part in the exercise."
Poole used the exercise during a March 4 class at FAU's Davie campus.
Ryan Rotela, a Coral Springs student, said he raised objections March 4 when Poole used the exercise in an intercultural communications class on FAU's Davie campus. Officials said the exercise was taken from an instructor's manual for the class textbook, "Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach."
Rotela said Poole brushed him off in class and told him to leave the classroom when he tried to talk to Poole afterward.