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Sharon Rogers to Quit Teaching Job in Wake of Bombing of Van

Times Staff Writers

Over concerns that her presence poses a safety risk, the wife of Vincennes skipper Will Rogers III will quit her fourth-grade teaching post at the exclusive private school where she has taught for 12 years, school officials announced Thursday.

“To ensure the safety of the children, the confidence of the parents and the integrity of the educational environment of La Jolla Country Day School, Mrs. Rogers and the school have reached a mutual decision that she will not be returning to the campus,” said Jim Stewart, the school’s development officer.

Stewart declined to comment on the deliberations leading to the decision, which was announced after school trustees convened an emergency meeting Thursday morning to discuss Sharon Rogers’ future at the private school and recent measures to beef up security at the campus. He also declined to comment on the terms of her departure.

But he added that school officials consulted with Sharon Rogers on Thursday before announcing the decision, which precludes the popular elementary schoolteacher from returning even next fall.

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The decision drew a mixed response from La Jolla Country Day parents, many of whom consider Sharon Rogers an outstanding teacher but were also concerned about the safety of their children if she returned. The school’s dilemma also provided grist for local morning radio talk shows, during which callers wondered aloud whether the Navy wife was not being made a victim for the second time because a pipe bomb went off under her vehicle last week.

The crude bomb exploded under Sharon Rogers’ Toyota van while she was driving from her University City home to the campus on Genesee Avenue last Friday. She escaped injury when she got out of the vehicle after hearing popping noises, which she thought were caused by a car rear-ending hers.

The incident--which the FBI is investigating as possible terrorist retribution for the mistaken downing last July of an Iranian civilian airliner by the guided missile cruiser Vincennes--prompted administrators at the normally quiet La Jolla campus to put Sharon Rogers on leave, hire security guards for the front gate and have the classrooms checked each morning for bombs before students arrived.

Safety concerns were heightened Tuesday when the school received a bomb threat, and the incident helped fuel worries among parents about student safety.

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Paul Leonard, a Washington aide to Rep. Bill Lowery (R-San Diego), said, “Because of the concern among the parents of the students, the headmaster and the board of trustees felt that at this time they had to ask Mrs. Rogers not to return to school.” Leonard said he talked Thursday with Headmaster Timothy Burns about the school’s decision to drop Sharon Rogers from the faculty.

“They had no direct information the school was being targeted by anyone,” Leonard said. “It was just the uncertainty, and they felt it was causing too much pressure on the academic environment. They felt they couldn’t hold classes properly.”

One parent said letting Mrs. Rogers go was “sort of a necessary evil.”

“I didn’t feel real threatened in the first place, but I feel relieved that they reached that decision,” said Jean Andrews, a local political consultant whose son was in Mrs. Rogers’ class last year. “I’m concerned about her as a teacher. Where does she go? I consider her a victim as much as anybody.”

Times staff writer Jane Fritsch contributed to this article.


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