Teacher robbed at Friends School


A teacher at Friends School of Baltimore -- the city's oldest school and one rarely exposed to crime -- was robbed at gunpoint early yesterday as she arrived for work, city police reported.

The teacher, Virginia Spry Kerley, 49, was robbed of $100 after a "clean . . . well-spoken" man approached her in the building, pulled a handgun from his coat and said, "It's been a long night, I've got to get out of here," a police report said.

Police said Ms. Kerley had arrived at the Quaker school at about 7:15 a.m. and was met in a hallway by the man, who was wearing what appeared to be an expensive gold watch.

He first told the teacher that he was looking for his nephew, police said. The doors to the school, located in the 5100 block of N. Charles St., were locked and it is unknown how the man got inside.

As Mrs. Kerley went to use a wall phone, the man drew the gun and ordered her to hang up, a police report said. He then demanded her car keys and rings, police said. Ms. Kerley handed the man her keys, but told him she was unable to remove her rings.

The gunman then grabbed her purse and took $100 from her wallet. He then threw her belongings to the ground and left the building, police said.

He did not take her car. The incident occurred before children were in the building.

Founded in 1784, Friends is an independent Quaker school for students from age 4 to grade 12. It ranks among the 25 oldest independent schools in the nation.

The school has a long and colorful history, and in the past has set important standards for other city schools. It was the first school in the city to adopt a coeducational policy and was among the first private schools to practice racial integration.

Police say crime is unusual at the school.

W. Byron Forbush, the headmaster, said in a letter to parents that it was unknown how the stranger got inside the building.

"Security is a major issue everywhere and other schools in the area have had similar incidents," Mr. Forbush wrote. "We are reviewing all security measures to see if there are other things that need to be done to increase the security of our campus in these very difficult times."

Mr. Forbush said city police will "provide uniform presence on the campus."

Police said they have no suspects.

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