Strip Club Owner Donates Big Bucks to Elementary School; Officials Freak Out

Poor Joe Rodriguez. The owner of the Cheetah Gentlemen's Clubs in Pompano Beach and West Palm Beach tries to do the right thing, and he's totally misunderstood.

In 2007, he launched Rodriguez Charities Inc., a nonprofit that aims to served the "needy and underprivileged," according to its website. The charity quietly began donating money to such unobtrusive causes as Toys for Tots and the American Cancer Society. They even gave the Blanche Ely High School marching band in Pompano $7,500 for a trip to Washington, D.C.

Everything was peachy, until Rodriguez tried to help elementary school kids.

Roosevelt Elementary is a West Palm Beach school where most of the students can't afford to buy lunch, much less a lap dance.

Last week, Rodriguez presented a giant, $10,000 check to Roosevelt's principal, and invited the media to help celebrate. Suddenly, a strip club king was posing in a photo with a school principal, and things got weird.

The Palm Beach Post ran a story saying that Palm Beach County school district officials would make Roosevelt return the money, because accepting funds from "adult entertainment establishments" violated district policy. 

Yesterday, though, district spokesman Nat Harrington backed off the threat. He said the policy doesn't apply to this type of donation, and it was up to principal Glenda Garrett to decide if she should keep the dough.

In fact, the charity's website indicates it previously gave $8,000 to Roosevelt. There's a photo of the school's sign proclaiming, "Thank you to Rodriguez Charities."

"It's the principal's decision. There's no policy specifically about that," Harrington said.

Garrett couldn't be reached for comment.

Rodney Kimbrough, manager of Cheetah Palm Beach, said he hadn't heard the final verdict on what would happen to the disputed donation. 

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