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Private School Weighs Bombing Victim’s Future There : La Jolla Country Day Worried About Sharon Rogers’ Return; Emergency Meeting Set for Today

Times Staff Writer

Parents at the exclusive private school that employs the wife of Vincennes skipper William Rogers III are worried about her return to the classroom, and a school trustee said her future “could very well” be discussed at an emergency meeting today.

The meeting of La Jolla Country Day School officials comes two days after the college preparatory campus received a bomb threat, which helped fuel concern among parents about student safety if Sharon Rogers returns to her fourth-grade classroom.

“Yes, we’re all concerned about the security of our children, and we feel that her presence on the campus, at this point, is not good,” said one parent, who asked not to be identified.

“I think parents would prefer that she would stay away for the rest of the school year,” said the parent, whose child attends elementary school. “I really have no idea how people feel about next year.”

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Houshmand Aftahi, one of the school trustees, said the question of Rogers’ return to teaching could come up during today’s emergency meeting, called to discuss what safety precautions have been taken at the school.

Declined to Discuss Future

“Yes, I hear that some parents are concerned, and they want to know what the school is going to do about it,” Aftahi said.

School administrators repeatedly declined to discuss Rogers’ future at the school or the precautions they are taking. “We’re mainly trying not to bring any more attention to the campus than absolutely necessary,” said Jim Stewart, the school’s development director.

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Rogers was driving her Toyota van to the school Friday when a pipe bomb exploded while she was stopped on Genesee Avenue. She got out of the vehicle after hearing popping noises, which she thought were caused by another car rear-ending hers. Rogers’ vehicle then exploded into flames, but she escaped injury.

News of the bombing--which experts speculate could have been a terrorist retaliation for the mistaken downing last July of an Iranian civilian airliner by the guided missile cruiser Vincennes--drew unwanted attention to the quiet private school where Rogers teaches.

On Monday, school administrators called a school-wide assembly to explain the bombing to students and to outline a series of security measures at the campus, Aftahi said. A memorandum from Headmaster Timothy M. Burns was sent home to parents.

The memo says that Rogers, who is under tight military guard with her husband on a San Diego naval base, will not be returning this week, according to the unidentified parent. The memo also tells parents that security guards will be posted at the school’s front gate and classrooms will be searched every morning before school begins.

The memo also asks parents and their children to shun media inquiries about precautions being taken at the school, the parent said.

Questions about Rogers’ return are tempered by the fact that parents believe she is an excellent teacher at the school, which is situated on 24 acres on Genesee in the heart of the Golden Triangle.

Rogers has taught at La Jolla Country Day for the last several years and served in the past as a faculty representative on the Board of Trustees.

‘Just That Wonderful’

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Jean Andrews, a local political consultant whose son attends fifth grade at the school, said Rogers was very popular with parents.

“She’s just one of life’s wonderful people,” said Andrews, whose son was taught by Rogers in third and fourth grades. “All of us parents keep our fingers crossed and pray we would have someone like Mrs. Rogers, she’s just that wonderful.

“She knows her subject matter and pushes her children. . . . She nurtures them along,” Andrews said.

But the bombing throws a cloud over Rogers’ future at the school, Andrews said.

“Think about it. What does she do now?. . . . That’s probably what they (school administrators) have to deal with. If she comes back and teaches, what does that mean?”

Both Andrews and San Diego attorney Nelson Brav, another La Jolla Country Day parent, said they are satisfied with the way the school is handling the controversy.

‘I Have Great Confidence’

“The only comment that I care to make is that I have great confidence in the faculty and staff of La Jolla Country Day and the various agencies that are cooperating in dealing with the problems,” Brav said.

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The bombing marks the second time recently that school administrators have had to take extra steps to calm parents and students at the school, which has about 700 students in preschool through 12th grade.

The first came about two months ago, when a sixth-grader was struck and killed while riding his bike in Scripps Ranch, Andrews said. School administrators took a “lot of time and effort” by sending a special communication to parents while helping the child’s classmates deal with his death.

La Jolla Country Day is considered one of the area’s top private schools, charging $5,500 to $7,000 in annual tuition. The campus has its own observatory, equipped with a 16-inch telescope.


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