GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Joe Louis Clark, the baseball bat and bullhorn-wielding principal whose unwavering commitment to his students and uncompromising disciplinary methods inspired the 1989 film “Lean on Me,” died at his Florida home on Tuesday. He was 82.
Clark had battled an unspecified illness, his family said in statement.
His family said in a statement that Clark started teaching at a Paterson grade school in Essex County, N.J., before becoming principal of PS 6 Grammar School.
He was later appointed principal of the crime and drug-ridden Eastside High School.
Morgan Freeman starred as Clark in the 1989 film “Lean on Me” that was loosely based on Clark’s tenure at Eastside.