Four local teachers have reported that they are safe in their homes after rioters looted their school in Tunis, capital of the North African nation of Tunisia, on Friday, Sept. 14.
Jeff Vaughn, principal of Bellingham High School, shared email messages he has received from his daughter Kaylee Vaughn, passing along reassuring news about herself and three other local educators: Andy Donahue, Marty Atkins and Allan Bredy. All four have been working at the American Cooperative School of Tunis, a private school near the U.S. Embassy.
That embassy, like several others in the Islamic world, was the target of mobs in an uproar over a short anti-Muslim video produced in the United States and circulated on YouTube.
Donahue is a former teacher and coach at Bellingham and Squalicum high schools. Atkins taught math at Bellingham for more than 20 years, Jeff Vaughn said.
Kaylee Vaughn, 25, teaches 16 second-graders from 14 countries at the private Tunis school, which provides pre-kindergarten through 12th grade education for the children of embassy personnel from around the world.
Bredy, a Sehome High School graduate and former Bellingham High teacher and coach, is superintendent of the school.
"The campus is a disaster," Bredy said in an email. "Local thugs took advantage of the protest to come and steal virtually everything on campus. ... Fortunately no one was hurt and the buildings are intact."
Jeff Vaughn said the school had been closed Friday in anticipation of trouble, and none of the teachers were at the school when the looters rampaged through it.
Bredy's email said Tunisian troops helped him and other school staffers clear the looters from the building, but not before nearly everything of value had been taken.
Jeff Vaughn said he did not yet know if his daughter and the other U.S. teachers would remain in Tunisia, but Bredy sounded as though he was planning to get the school up and running as soon as possible.
"We will likely be closed for a few days as we clean things up and take stock of what was lost," his email to other teachers said. "Please stay safe and stay calm."