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Discussion About What's Happening at the Schools

Aired October 22, 2002 - 11:35   ET


LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: Let's go on now and talk some more about what is happening at the schools.
Right now, we're joined by Dr. Linda Handy, who is with, as I understand it, the Chelsea School, is that correct, Dr. Handy.


HARRIS: And that is a school that is there in Silver Spring?

HANDY: That is correct.

HARRIS: If I can ask you, how close you are to the scene that we are watching this morning?

HANDY: We're probably about ten miles away.

HARRIS: Ten miles way. And yet, I am sure feeling the affects of all of this. What kind of situation is your school looking at today?

HANDY: Well, actually, a third of our students are here, and actually, the rest remained at home, and our -- of course, we're still under code blue, which means that our inside doors are locked, as well as our outside doors.

HARRIS: Let me ask you this, I you say a third of the students are there, two-thirds are home. The two-thirds that are there, did they come after the reports, or were they already there, then decided not to go home?

HANDY: Well, actually they came here this morning, and Montgomery County schools were announcing that they were opened, and we follow Montgomery County.

HARRIS: OK. What kind of stories have been hearing from the kids as they have been coming in? Have they been expressing any concerns or fears of their own?

HANDY: I think the thing that is interesting is when their parents are coming to pick them up, because we have called parents now to say that they are welcomed to come pick their students up at any time, when they are seeing their parents, they are, you know, hugging them, and it just looks like they are just relieved and happy to see that their parents are fine. You know, of course they are internalizing this. HARRIS: Yes. What ages are we talking about? What grades are at this school?

HANDY: Our students are in fifth through 12th grade.

HARRIS: So it's like a middle school and a high school?

HANDY: And a high school, that's correct.

HARRIS: And the kids who were there, would you say most of them, would they be older students or younger students?

HANDY: Actually, most of them are the older students.

HARRIS: And that doesn't surprise me. That's about what I would have guessed. Have the authorities talked to you at all about the fact that there are -- or questioning about whether or not there was a threat on schools being made in the letter that we've been discussing so much here in the press. Have they talked to you about that?

HANDY: As a matter of fact, no. We have heard nothing about that.

HARRIS: Does that draw any reaction from you to think that this may be an element and you haven't heard anything?

HANDY: Actually, of course. It frightens me to think that schools and children would be a target.

HARRIS: So what do you do at the next step. Are you going to continue to keep the school opened do you think, or what?

HANDY: At this point, once kid arrive here in the morning, we are responsible for them until 3:00. So we will keep our school opened.

HARRIS: Yes? Let me ask you this, now that you have got them there, what do you do with them? You don't have full classrooms. Do you have all of your teachers there?

HANDY: Actually, most our teachers are here, and we have our students in two rooms. The middle division is -- they are watching a movie, a Shakespearian movie, and the upper division students are playing some multisensory game, chess, for one. We did have our -- drop-everything-and-read period. So...

HARRIS: Probably a great idea, anything but have them watch the news.


HARRIS: Unfortunately, I must say that. How about your colleague there, the teachers there, the grown-ups at the school. Have you had to talk with them at all, about any of their own fears?

HANDY: I think that the colleagues, when they get around students, their own fears and their own needs dissipate, that's for sure.

HARRIS: There you go, there you go, that's what you are supposed to do.

HANDY: That's right.

HARRIS: Take care of those kids first.

HANDY: Yes, absolutely.

HARRIS: Dr. Linda Handy, good job taking care of those kids. Do the best you can. We sure will be rooting for you.

HANDY: Thank you very much.

HARRIS: I wish you the best.

Let's check in now with our Bob Franken. He is there the at scene of -- the scouring of woods. As you can see behind him, you can see the authorities all spread out, and doing their job.

Bob, what have you learned?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first all, I want to sort of set the scene here, Leon. As you pointed out, the bus is still there, the bus -- where the man was killed. Now, if we could walk over there, I want to just extend over the wooded area, which is right next to the bus, is the area that point is of interest. That is an area that has a basketball court connected apparently to an apartment complex across the street.

Police have really focused a lot of the investigation that we've been able to see on that area. They put some evidence markers early this morning there. They took a plaster cast, we are told by observers, the type of thing you do if you're looking for tire tracks, if you're looking for footprints, you're looking for that type of thing. They are obviously focusing on that wooded area, which of course has been the favored venue of the sniper.

Not they have not established yet whether this is the same Washington area sniper, but it was a sniper who took the life of the bus driver who was standing on the steps of the bus. It's the one that was in front. This is apparently an area where the buses congregate to stage, as they go out on their morning run, right before they would have started, right before the rush hour would have occurred. It would have started shortly after 6:00 a.m. That's when the shooting actually occurred. Of course, it would have occurred to so many people that the bus driver in the congregation of other others like that probably talking about the topic that has so gripped this area to terror to some degree, and that is the Washington-area sniper.

We will find out after ballistic tests are conducted whether this is another case of that shooter. We can tell you, of course, that this is the area where he began his killing rampage nearly three weeks ago. This is the Montgomery County area, the suburban area of Washington D.C. Only a couple of miles from here was the general area where those shootings occurred before he moved elsewhere. Now, he has come so tragically, if it is the sniper, so tragically home -- Leon.

HARRIS: Bob Franken, tough morning and busy morning that you've had there. Thank you very much. We'll get back to you in just a bit.


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