If he had seen the signs his opponents carried last night, NortheastHigh Principal Joseph Carducci Jr. might have joined the teachers and students who don't want to return to school this fall.
"How can our children fly like eagles when they're led by a turkey?" one sign asked.
"Carducci: The Doctor of Doom," read another.
Other placards denounced the principal in even more unflattering terms: "School boardgarbage"; "Public Enemy No. 1"; "The Saddam of Northeast"; and "Joe the Ghoul."
"When one man can upset a whole community, I don't think that's too harsh," said parent Jenny Haney, who carried the "turkey" sign.
The rally, held in front of the school along Duvall Highway, was planned as a warm-up for tomorrow's Board of Education meeting, where for the second time, parents intend to ask the board to dismiss Carducci. Nearly 100 parents, students and Northeast graduates showed up to vent their dislike and contempt of the principal, who has been in charge of the school since February.
The cries for Carducci's removal began in late May, when he fired longtime Athletic Director Bob Grimm and Assistant Athletic Director Bart Rader.
Though the men's teaching positions were not affected, students protested immediately, staging a sit-in that resulted in four suspensions. Last night, parents said they believe Carducci is trying to undermine Northeast's athletic program, considered one of the county's best.
But parents and community activists have expanded the dispute to include Carducci's style and methods. They complain he censors students' work and education materials based on his own beliefs. They say he is undermining morale to the point where teachers are leaving the school. He is a "poor communicator" and a "tyrant," they say.
Ericka Shade, president of the Class of 1991, said the protesters are representativeof the entire school. She and fellow graduate Nicole Meister said they were concerned about several of Carducci's actions.
"He removeda Rolling Stone magazine from the library because he didn't like what was in it," Meister said.
Last month, the principal's opponents took their case to Superintendent Larry L. Lorton and the school board.
But the board has given no indication that members will transfer or replace Carducci.
If the board continues to refuse to act, parents say they will take their complaints about Carducci to the stateBoard of Education.
The school board "is afraid to do the right thing because they don't want to set a precedent. They're afraid to let the parents speak," said parent Carol Vickery, who will address theboard tomorrow. "But we are not going to go away."