Two bus loads of parents and students from Northeast High School poured into Monday night's school board meeting with one thing on their minds -- the ouster of principal Joseph Carducci Jr.
Northeast graduate Jennifer Strevig, 18, waved a large red-and-white anti-Carduccisign during the meeting. Other students chanted school slogans in the foyer outside the board room as a parent yelled at board members, "Don't sweep it under the carpet."
Carducci did not attend the meeting, which was sparked by his dismissal three weeks ago of Athletic Director Bob Grimm and assistant director Bart Rader. That move sparked heated student protests.
Butparents say the problem with the principal goes beyond what they believe was a bad decision. Students complain of low morale and censorship at the school, while parents say Carducci, during his less-than-half-year tenure, has been a poor communicator and a tyrant.
Those complaints, however, were not aired during Monday's board meeting, following stern warnings from board president Nancy Gist about not discussing personnel items.
Duke Vickery, a Northeast parent and athletic booster, was stopped after delivering only a few lines of his prepared comments during the public participation portion of the lengthy meeting. After the meeting was recessed for 10 minutes, Vickery delivered general comments that did not refer directly to Carducci.
"Since February, the school has been turned upside-down," Vickery said. "Northeast is the hub of the community. We love one another and support one another. We want the best for our children academically as well as athletically.
"We have been accused of being too strong in athletics. But the problem goes beyond athletics at Northeast.
"There is a severe lack of communication. We have censorship. Students in a desktop publishing class were not allowed to review movies that were approved. In protest, students left a blank page where an editorialwould have gone. We need change."
Carducci reportedly would not allow the student journalists to review either "The Doors" or "New Jack City," saying they contained drugs and violence.
Other students complain their principal is distant.
"I've seen Mr. Carducci two times," said 16-year-old Jennifer Kemmersen. "Our former principal wasout (in the school) every day. He knew everybody by name. Mr. Carducci looks at you and walks around you like he knows everything."
Gist suggested that another meeting be arranged with superintendent Larry L. Lorton, but parents grumbled at the suggestion. They have been in meetings withcentral office staff and Carducci several times over the last two weeks. But they complain that little has been accomplished.
Association of Education Leaders Executive Director Richard Kovelant and President Barry Fader showed up to try to prevent any public airing of grievances.
"I'm here because it is a personnel matter that should be private," Kovelant said before the meeting. "Principals aren't selected by popularity. If it is turned over to the public, then we don't need grievance procedures. If the board succumbs to public pressure, we might as well throw away procedures and do it by applause meters."
Though the school year is over, Northeast parentsseemed unwilling to let the issue die.
"They don't want to hear what the public has to say," Carol Vickery said.