Northeast High School parents are still planning a protest rally against Principal Joseph Carducci Jr. next Wednesday despite appeals from the superintendent of schools and Sen. Philip Jimeno to avoid disrupting the troubled school.
"No matter where we've gone with our complaints, we've hit a brick wall, and this is our only way to get around that wall," said Linda Grunder, a member of the Northeast Community Family Group, an ad hoc organization of 75 parents calling for Carducci's removal.
The group says Carducci is imposing his religious beliefs at the school, damaging teaching, counseling and athletic programs.
Both Jimeno and Superintendent Larry L. Lorton tried this week to convinceleaders of the group that the rally -- scheduled to coincide with ninth-grade orientation -- is not in the best interests of the students.
"It's intimidating," said Jimeno, a Brooklyn Park Democrat. "I don't have anything against them going to a lawyer or to the state school board, but I don't think the rallies are in the best interest of the school."
Jimeno, who was asked to mediate the dispute, added that he doesn't believe the controversy will die down until Bob Grimm is conditionally reinstated as athletic director and given a chance to work out his differences with Carducci.
Grimm, a 15-year veteran, and his assistant of nine years, Bart Rader, were removed by Carducci after holding a traditional lacrosse tournament on Good Friday.
Carol Vickery, another leader in the parents group, said Lorton called her Wednesday and asked her to call off the protest.
"He asked me whether it would have a negative impact on the students, and I told him I felt I had a right and obligation to be there to let incomingparents know the situation their kids are getting into at this school," Vickery said.
Vickery said Lorton has done nothing to assure parents that her daughter and other people's children are not subjected to abortion or religious counseling from Carducci.
Last week, a former Northeast guidance counselor said that Carducci had institutedan unwritten policy requiring faculty members to report to him any pregnant students who were considering an abortion so he could counselthem against it.
In addition to the abortion policy, parents havecriticized his memo to science teachers asking whether creationism as a science was getting equal time, his removal of a copy of Rolling Stone magazine from library shelves and his dismissal of Grimm after the GoodFriday tournament. Approximately 1,000 people signed a petition calling for Carducci's ouster. The petition was presented to the school board July 3.
Lorton met with the parents July 10 and dismissed the petition. The group appealed the decision to the school boardin a certified letter Aug. 8, but the board did not receive it untilAug. 12 -- two days after the 30-day appeals period.
Hopes that Grimm would be rehired were dashed Aug. 13, when he was removed from consideration for the job.
Lorton says the issue is dead and that the continuing protests are "poisoning the atmosphere" at the school.
The parents are holding an informational meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Woodland Beach Inn to exchange views on Carducci's performance as principal and to organize Wednesday morning's rally.