Former principal files civil suit over 'fall guy' role in sex case Relegated to desk job, Carducci asks $15 million

June 28, 1996|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A former Northeast High School principal has sued Anne Arundel County and state school officials for $15 million, claiming they made him a scapegoat in a 1993 student-teacher sex scandal and ruined his reputation.

Joseph J. Carducci, 47, of Edgewater claims he was "targeted" because of controversy surrounding his Catholic beliefs and was made the "fall guy" to protect higher-level administrators, including Superintendent Carol S. Parham, in the aftermath of the scandal, according to the civil suit.

Social studies teacher Ronald W. Price was convicted in 1993 of charges he had sexual relations with three students.

A report by lawyer Alan I. Baron on the school system's handling of suspected abuse said Carducci appropriately reported April 1993 allegations by a student to authorities. But the report recommended removing Carducci, faulting him for not breaking up a powerful clique of teachers at the Pasadena school and for running the school as if nothing had happened. Carducci was popular with some families, and during his tenure academic performance improved.

The 23-year school system veteran was moved from Northeast, where he was principal for 3 1/2 years, to school headquarters July 1, 1994. He is a "principal assigned to central office" with unspecified duties. He is in the department of instruction, earning $77,022 a year.

"The bottom line is that he was taken from his job as principal to the central office to do relatively little," said Steven B. Preller, Carducci's lawyer. And Carducci has not been considered for principal posts at other schools, he said.

Defendants in the June 14 lawsuit are the state and local school boards; Parham; Thomas R. Twombly, then county board president; Kenneth Lawson, then acting associate superintendent for instruction and student services; Shirley Hicks, then director of senior high schools; and State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

"That lawsuit is wholly without merit, as to the state board and the local board and individuals named," said B. Darren Burns, a lawyer for the school system.

Throughout Carducci's failed administrative appeals, the school system maintained that transferring a principal is within the superintendent's power and that Carducci was moved to give Northeast a fresh start.

But Carducci claims his Catholic activism made him a convenient target. He wears a scapular, an item that shows devotion to Mary, mother of Jesus. He criticized sex education and in 1991 did not want to renew the contract of an athletic director who had refused to reschedule an event from a Christian holiday.

Pub Date: 6/28/96

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