Students, parents say Carducci should remain at Northeast

February 03, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel | Carol L. Bowers and Andrea F. Siegel,Sun Staff Writers

In Thursday's editions of The Sun for Anne Arundel County, comments from a school board meeting about the transfers of two assistant principals at Northeast High School were incorrectly attributed. The comments were from PTSA member Chris Kirby's written testimony, which was read into the record. He had asked why the two assistant principals had been transferred when the principal was not.

The Sun regrets the error.

Supporters of embattled Northeast High School Principal Joseph Carducci -- nearly a dozen students among them -- had harsh words for his critics and told Anne Arundel County school board members yesterday that he should stay at the school.

Don Meeker, head of the Northeast Citizen Advisory Committee, said he was "disgusted" by a special investigator's report into the Ronald Walter Price sex scandal.


Mr. Meeker believes that efforts by parents and school system counselors to help students cope with the scandal were not adequately recognized in the report.

The report was highly critical of Dr. Carducci's handling of the matter, however, and recommended his removal.

But Mr. Meeker said students who were harassed at school because they had made sex-abuse allegations against teachers had been protected as best the administration could.

The report had cited such harassment as proof of Dr. Carducci's inability to handle the scandal, in which a veteran teacher admitted to having sex with seven students.

Two other Northeast teachers also were charged with child sexual abuse last year. At least two students who made allegations of abuse have left the school. One of the teachers was acquitted in court, and the other is awaiting trial.

Price is serving a 21-year prison sentence.

The students at yesterday's school board meeting in Annapolis said Dr. Carducci had signed passes freeing them to attend. They will have to make up missed classwork and may be asked to give brief reports to other students on the portion of the meeting they witnessed.

"I am in full support of the administration and the staff at Northeast," said one senior, Bill Forand.

Dr. Carducci's defenders said that assertions by investigator Alan I. Baron that the school was in chaos and that the principal only reluctantly allowed counselors into the school to talk with students were wrong. Mr. Baron's report called Dr. Carducci's interpersonal skills 'wholly inadequate."

Those who spoke on Dr. Carducci's behalf said the school is recovering from a myriad of staff changes, criminal sex cases against three teachers and a sexual harassment scandal -- but has grown weary of what has become a fishbowl-like existence.

"We are tired of being forced to walk in the Price shadow," said Penny Glover, another senior at the Pasadena school.

Rumors have abounded since December that Dr. Carducci is about to be transferred.

"A lot of students at Northeast look up to him. He has just been a great support for us," Heather Feeheley, a senior, said after the meeting.

At the board meeting, the leader of the Northeast PTSA executive board said the school situation is improving. She urged board members not to make any changes -- at least for this school year.

"We can only continue to heal if decisions are postponed until the end of the school year," said Linda Tetrault, the PTSA president. Mrs. Tetrault said she felt students had been through enough upheaval with the transfers of two assistant principals last year.

A meeting set for 7:30 p.m. Monday at the school also has upset the PTSA executive board. The meeting has been called at the request of the County Council of PTAs for community discussion of Mr. Baron's report, but the PTSA board doesn't want it at the school.

Last year, the PTA Council urged the school board to remove Dr. Carducci. Penny Glover, the senior, said the decision to have the meeting at the school smacked of "insensitivity and poor judgment."

Acting School Superintendent Carol S. Parham approved the meeting location more than a week ago and has promised to attend.

* In other action yesterday, the board voted unanimously, 7-0, to name Dr. Parhaminterim superintendent.

Dr. Parham was named acting superintendent in August, after Superintendent C. Berry Carter II went on leave pending an investigation into his handling of sex-abuse allegations against teachers. Mr. Carter resigned in October after an investigator's report concluded he had failed to obey state laws requiring that all complaints of child abuse be reported to police and social service agencies.

School board members have said the search for a new superintendent will be carried out nationwide.

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