Ed Vinson never has seen anything quite like it at Northeast High. And he's been a member of the school's athletic boosters for 17 years.
"I haven't seen these kinds of emotions and discontent. I've had teachers calling me, coaches calling me, parents calling me," Vinson,53, said of the negative reaction to last week's dismissals of Athletic Director Bob Grimm and Assistant Athletic Director Bart Rader.
Principal Joseph Carducci Jr.'s decision to advertise the two positions met with resistance by a coalition of Northeast supporters -- including Vinson -- seeking to have Grimm and Rader reinstated.
The committee, which has around 62 members -- including past and present members of the boosters, parents, school employees and community activists -- met for nearly two hours Monday night at the Woodland Beach Inn in Pasadena.
The group also is circulating a petition in thecommunities in an attempt to have Carducci removed from the job he has held for just over four months.
"A lot of us involved in the community and with different activities here don't want to see our efforts go down the tubes because of one individual," Roland Marsh, a past boosters president, said last Friday in announcing the committee's formation.
Carducci cited "philosophical differences" with Grimm, who had been athletic director for 15 years. He would not elaborate on those differences.
"You have to realize we all care about our children and that's who we think is being affected by this," said another former president of the boosters who asked not to be named. "It's like one wave of the hand is going to change something that's been running pretty good for the last 15 to 20 years, just because someone is dropped in our area whose philosophy doesn't coincide with a philosophy that's been pretty successful."
Carducci spent the last nine years as assistant principal at Andover before replacing retired Northeast principal JosephCardamone on Feb. 1. Carducci could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Among those in attendance at Monday's meeting were delegates Joan Cadden, D-Brooklyn Park and W. Ray Huff, D-Pasadena.
"Delegate Huff said one of the parents called and requested that we be there," Cadden said. "I went just to listen, but theyasked my advice and I told them I felt the group should meet with (School Superintendent Larry L. Lorton) and discuss their feelings.
"I think they've organized themselves nicely. I think they've been very orderly and I think they have a lot of questions that need to be answered."
Vinson, also a member of the Riviera Beach Recreation Council, said around 10members of the committee are hoping to meet withLorton next week. Lorton and Carducci were invited to Monday's meeting, but neither attended. However, school board member Tom Twombly was present.
The committee plans to meet again at 8 p.m. Monday at the same location. It also is attempting to have its grievances included on the docket at the Board of Education's June 17 meeting, "which will give us time to get the petition signed," Vinson said.
"We were told by (Deputy Superintendent C. Berry) Carter that we're going about this the right way," he said. "We sent them a letter telling them about the meeting. We also sent one to the principal. We're not going behind anyone's back."
Grimm, a social studies teacher at Northeast for 24 years, said he was "made aware" of Monday's meeting, but felt it was "probably best for me to stay as far removed from this aspossible."
"I don't think it's my place to go out and lead a movement like this," he said. "It appears some other people are doing a great job getting organized, but I still have my teaching job here to be concerned about."
Last Friday, between 250 and 300 students gathered outside the school to protest Carducci's decision not to retainGrimm. They refused to go to their first-period classes despite repeated warnings from administrators.
"It's kind of overwhelming thatthere's been such a great show of support," Grimm said. "There are times in this job when you think nobody appreciates what you've done and no one will remember. But this shows that people are genuinely appreciative of my efforts."
When asked if he would consider returning to his position of athletic director if reinstated, Grimm said, "I would hope that if certain things were accomplished, that communication could be established and the principal and I could look forward toa good working relationship, and if Bart (Rader) and I were given the proper support, I think we could all work together."
If the committee has its way, Carducci won't be included in that scenario.
"Our intensity is not going to fall down on this," said one member of the boosters club who asked not to be identified.
"We intend to keep it up. But I know it's not going to be an easy chore."
Vinson said, "Since I've been with the boosters, we've put (stadium) lights up, a press box, a ticket booth, bleachers and dugouts at the baseball diamond. Now, we see everything falling apart.
"Bob Grimm is the glue that keeps everything together."