Joe Clark, the Paterson, N.J., high school principal whose tough disciplinary style captured the attention of the Reagan administration, turned down a White House job during a meeting here yesterday.
"He said his place was in that school with those 3,000 kids and he wasn't going to let his opponents drive him out," said Gary L. Bauer, President Reagan's chief domestic affairs adviser. Bauer had offered Clark a job as an adviser after the Paterson school board brought charges that could lead to Clark's dismissal from Eastside High.
"He essentially said no" to the offer, Bauer said. "He said it was very enticing, but it's hard to imagine Joe Clark any place but with that bullhorn." Clark often carries a bullhorn and bat through the halls of his school.
Clark, who traveled here at federal expense for lunch with Bauer at the Hay-Adams Hotel, agreed to act as an unpaid, unofficial adviser to the White House on urban education, Bauer said.
While Clark was here, his New Jersey supporters were coming forward. A Fort Lee, N.J., software business offered $1 million in scholarships to Eastside students on the condition that Clark is not fired.
Paterson Mayor Francis X. Graves yesterday asked Clark and the school board to end their dispute, which arose after the principal expelled 66 students without due process.
"We need Joe Clark at Eastside High School," said Graves, predicting that hundreds of students would drop out if Clark is fired. The mayor said he asked the school board and Clark to drop their complaints against each other. The board has acknowledged failing to notify Clark, as required by a state "Sunshine" law, of the meeting at which it initiated disciplinary action.
Clark, who was en route to New Jersey and unavailable for comment, is widely perceived as having turned around the predominantly minority high school, raising test scores and quelling discipline problems. That success and his now-famous style attracted the praise of Reagan and Education Secretary William J. Bennett over the past several years. Now Clark also has attracted financial support.
"We believe in what he's done. He's brought order back to the environment," said Jack Berdy, chief executive of On-Line Software International, the Fort Lee company that offered $100,000 in scholarships each year for the next 10 years. "We want the school board to recognize that."