Ebene News – United States – Joe Clark, principal of New Jersey high school, dies at 82

Megaphone in hand, he walked the halls imposing discipline, expelling “disbelievers” and restoring order Morgan Freeman portrayed him in the movie “Lean on Me”

Joe Clark, the compelling disciplinary director of a struggling New Jersey high school in the 1980s who rose to fame for restoring order as he walked through its halls with a megaphone and sometimes a bat. baseball, died Tuesday at his home in Gainesville, Fla. He was 82 years old

When M Clark, a former Army drill sergeant, arrived at Eastside High School from Paterson in 1982, he declared it a “cauldron of violence” He kicked out 300 students for disciplinary issues in his first week

When he threw out – “redacted,” as he put it – about 60 more students five years later, he called them “leeches, disbelievers and thugs” (This second round of suspensions led to the Paterson School Board to file insubordination charges, which were later dropped)

Mr. Clark was successful in restoring order, inspiring pride in many students, and improving some test scores He won praise from President Ronald Reagan and Reagan’s Education Secretary William J Bennett With Morgan Freeman portraying him, he was immortalized in the 1989 film “Lean on Me” And his hard love policies put him on the cover of Time magazine in 1988, holding his bat “Is getting tough. the answer?” the headline read “School principal Joe Clark says yes – and critics are angry”

Mr Clark, who led a poor, largely black and Hispanic student body, denounced affirmative action and welfare policies and “the hocus-pocus liberals” when “60 Minutes” profiled him in 1988 he told correspondent Harry Reasoner: “Because we were slaves, that doesn’t mean you have to be thugs and thugs and hit people on the head and steal people and rape people No, I can’t accept this And I don’t make alibis for black people anymore I just say work hard for what you want “

To take control of a school plagued by crime, Mr. Clark instituted automatic suspensions for assault, drug possession, fighting, vandalism and use of profanity against teachers He instructed students to perform school duties for less serious offenses such as delay and disruption of class The names of the offenders were announced via the public address system

And, in 1986, to prevent thugs from entering the school, he ordered the front doors to be padlocked during school hours. Firefighters responded by having the locks removed, citing the safety of students and teachers A year later, the city cited him for contempt for continuing to chain doors

“Instead of receiving applause and purple hearts for a school resurgence,” M Clark said after a court hearing, “you find yourself maligned by some blind creeps”

Although the lockout episode put him in conflict with the Paterson School Board, his no-frills style led him to an interview for a White House job in early 1988. Before he turned it down, he insisted that if he accepted the post it wouldn’t be because of pressure from the council

“I refuse to let a group of stubborn and rebellious board members drive me out of this town in which I have worked so diligently for 27 years,” he told the Washington Post in 1988 Post headline called it “The Wyatt Earp of Eastside High”

Joe Louis Clark was born May 8, 1938 in Rochelle, Georgia, and moved with his family to Newark when he was 6 He graduated from what is now William Paterson University in Wayne, NJ , and graduated from Seton Hall

After serving as a drill instructor in the Army Reserve, he began his career in education as a teacher and elementary school principal in New Jersey, then as a director of camps and playgrounds for Essex County, NJ Then he was appointed to transform Eastside High

“A school goes where the principal goes,” Paterson school board chairman William Pascrell told North Jersey’s The Record newspaper “Eastside is a school ready to take off Joe Clark is the guy who can do it “

In 1989, his final year at Eastside, M Clark spent time away from school promoting “Lean on Me” and was on the road when a group of young men stripped to wear their G ropes at a school assembly Mr Clark was suspended for a week for failing to supervise the rally

After six years on the conference circuit, often calling for rigorous academic standards, Mr. Clark resurfaced as director of the Essex County Youth Detention Center in Newark Once again his tactics caught fire The New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission and the Division of Youth and Justice Services family from the state criticized him at different times for his excessive use of physical restraints, including shackling and handcuffing some detainees for two days

Mr Clark resigned as director in early 2002 after the Juvenile Justice Commission accused him of tolerating the isolation of young people for long periods of time

Her survivors include her daughters, Joetta Clark Diggs and Hazel Clark, both Olympic middle distance runners; one son, JJ, the director of athletics at Stanford University; and three grandchildren

Mr. Clark’s image was dramatically reinvented in the climax of “Lean on Me” Like Mr. Clark, Mr. Freeman is sent to jail for breaking fire safety codes, only to persuade the students who are mobilizing for his release to disperse (He is released by the mayor in the film)

Mr. Clark never went to jail and the film’s director John Avildsen admitted the scene was fictional

“Now if he hadn’t actually taken the chains off the doors,” M Avildsen told The Times in 1989, speaking of M Clark, “and if he had gone to jail then what happened in the movie could very well have happened”

Joe Louis Clark, Lean on Me, Eastside High School, Morgan Freeman, New Jersey

Ebene News – United States – Joe Clark, Tough Principal at New Jersey High School, dies at 82

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/30/nyregion/joe-clark-dead.html