Clark came to Eastside after working as a grade-school teacher and turning around a failing grammar school as principal. Before that, he graduated from Newark Central High School and William Paterson College -- which is now William Paterson University -- and served as a U.S. Army Reserve Sergeant and Drill Instructor.
Clark handling of the school’s violence, drug dealing, and low-test scores drew nationwide attention and had him at odds with parents of expelled students and the school board, Paterson Times reported.
The changes made to Eastside from his methods led to appearances on numerous talk shows, and most notably was portrayed by Morgan Freeman in “Lean On Me” in 1989.
That same year. Clark retired and went on to write the book “Laying Down the Law: Joe Clark’s Strategy for Saving Our Schools.”
The educator is survived by his children, Joetta, Hazel, and JJ, and grandchildren, Talitha, Jorell, and Hazel.