September 01, 1993

Former Northeast High School teacher Ronald W. Price goes to trial next week for sexually abusing three of his students. School Superintendent C. Berry Carter is on paid administrative leave pending a more thorough investigation of the Price case. But what of five other school officials who apparently knew of Mr. Price's misconduct but failed to act?

State officials, whose probe this summer implicated Mr. Carter, say these five also failed to comply fully with child abuse reporting laws.

Joseph Cardamone, then principal of Northeast, allegedly was contacted in 1987 by two teachers who suspected Mr. Price after finding him embracing a girl in a locked room. Instead of notifying the Department of Social Services as required by law, he conducted his own investigation. He did contact DSS in 1988, when a student told him she was involved with Mr. Price. But he also talked to Mr. Price, taking him at his word that he was doing nothing wrong.

After Paul Ueberroth, director of high schools, learned of Mr. Price's alleged problems from Mr. Cardamone in 1987, he consulted with Paul Acito, then special assistant to the superintendent. Mr. Acito submitted a memo summarizing the two teachers' allegations to Mr. Carter. Both claim not to remember the memo; neither contacted DSS.

In 1989, Mary Gable, then a Northeast vice principal and now principal of Old Mill High, did notify police after a graduate told her she had had sex with Mr. Price. But state officials say Ms. Gable failed to give police the names of other alleged victims, and she did not ask DSS to look into whether Mr. Price was continuing his alleged behavior.

Current Northeast Principal Joseph Carducci was approached during the 1991-92 school year by a parent concerned about Mr. Price's close relationship with one female student. Mr. Carducci said he talked to Mr. Price and dropped the matter after the teacher denied any wrongdoing.

The school board, which has begun a second investigation into this scandal, should look as closely at these people as at Mr. Carter.

Little can be done about those who have left the school system -- Messrs. Acito, Cardamone and Ueberroth -- but they should be held publicly accountable if they are as culpable as the state probe indicates.

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