Huntington Beach : School Board Member Tells of Phone 'Threats'

A Huntington Beach City School District board member said Thursday that she has received five "threatening" phone calls since the board voted to close Robert H. Burke Elementary School.

Karen O'Bric said the calls were received Monday evening and Tuesday morning, from two women and three men. Each of the calls began with the question, "Will you change your position with regard to the closure of Burke School?" O'Bric said.

When she answered "No," the callers made remarks about the safety of her four children, O'Bric said.

O'Bric said she holds a political rival, Ed Zschoche, responsible for the calls, since he is the organizer of the campaign against closing Burke School. Zschoche, who ran unsuccessfully for a school board seat in 1983, is president of the Burke School Parent Teacher Organization.

Zschoche acknowledged that he organized telephone lobbying to try to change the trustees' minds on closing Burke, but said he knew of no threats being made against O'Bric or anyone else.

He said he personally contacted everyone who had been assigned to call the O'Bric home--all of them women--and no one knew of any threats. Only one of his callers had reached O'Bric personally, he said, although others spoke with her husband and son.

O'Bric said she notified police, who suggested she contact an attorney.

"There probably wasn't much we could do for her," said Police Sgt. Jim Dahl. Such calls, he said, "don't really constitute threats (and) could be taken as good advice . . . . Normally, if someone is going to do something, they don't call and make a threat."

The O'Bric children, whose ages range from 6 to 13, are still attending school, but their mother has begun picking them up after classes. "They know something's wrong. They're a little quieter than usual," she said.

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