Joe Clark, the compelling disciplinary director of a struggling New Jersey high school in the 1980s who rose to fame for restoring order as he walked his hallways with a megaphone and sometimes a baseball bat, is died Monday at his home in Gainesville, Florida. 82.
His family announced his death but did not specify a cause.
When Mr. Clark, a former Army drill sergeant, arrived at Eastside High School in Paterson in 1982, he declared it a “cauldron of violence.” In his first week, he expelled 300 students for disciplinary issues. When he threw out – “redacted,” he said – about 60 other students five years later, he called them “leeches, disbelievers and thugs”.
But he managed to restore order and improve some test scores, winning the praise (and the offer of a political job in the White House) from President Ronald Reagan and William J. Bennett, secretary of the education of Reagan, and being immortalized in the 1989 film “Lean on Me” in which he was played by Morgan Freeman.
Mr Clark, who led a poor, largely black and Hispanic student body, has often denounced affirmative action and welfare and “linguistic liberals and hocus-pocus.”
When “60 Minutes” profiled him in 1989, he told correspondent Harry Reasoner: “Because we were slaves, that doesn’t mean you have to be thugs and thugs and hit people in the head and steal. people and raping people. No, I cannot accept this. And I no longer make alibis for blacks. I’m just saying work hard for what you want. “
A full obituary will be released soon.