On Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2015, The Los Angeles Times reported that all schools in the Los Angeles (LA) school district had been closed due to a credible threat. Several authorities received a bomb threat via email that warned that backpacks and packages were supposedly left on unnamed campuses. It is believed that the threat may have originated in Frankfurt, Germany.
According to N.Y. officials, a similar threat was sent to school leaders in their districts as well. Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Los Angeles Times that the threat was so generic and outlandish it did not merit the disservice to close the schools. He did not agree with the LA district’s decision to close the second-largest school district in the nation.
NYPD Deputy Commissioner Stephen P. Davis thought the threat was a cut-and-paste job that only had the names of the cities changed. Davis claimed, “It entailed so much detail and was so over the top with so many people involved in the conspiracy that it didn’t add up.”
The threat that prompted the LA school district to displace over 700,000 students on Tuesday was controversial, reports BBC News. NYPD Commissioner William Bratton claims the threat may have come from jihadists, but nothing verified the credibility of the message. He believes that LA officials overreacted.
LA Police Chief Charlie Beck disagrees with Bratton’s opinion. Beck said it is irresponsible to criticize when the responsibility of protecting millions of young lives is not shared. He thought it was best to be safe and look the fool than be sorry and become part of the cause. Half of the parents who were interviewed were grateful for the cautionary stance, while others were put out and disgruntled for having to disrupt their work. Some folks believe that the drastic decision to close the schools was unnecessary.
Although the missive appears to have been sent from Germany, law enforcement officials told the Los Angeles Times that the origin may be much closer. The threat has been investigated by district officials, including the FBI and the LAPD.
Steve Zimmer, president of the LA Unified School District’s Board of Education, told The Atlantic at a news conference the decision to close the schools was appropriate given recent events, especially after what happened in San Bernardino. He further asked that corporations and employers be understanding and supportive of the parents who had to care for their children instead of going to work.
Regarding the San Bernardino tragedy, District Superintendent Ramon Cortines believes it is important to take every precaution necessary to protect citizens. The recent attacks have proven this, and it is not irresponsible to ensure that children are safe. If the threat had been real, and no action was taken, the sorrow and shame would be unbearable and certainly unforgivable.
The decision to close the LA school district was a bold move, said LA officials. Whether it was a poor one or not may never be answered. Given the hindsight, it may seem to some as an overdramatic response to a ridiculous threat. To those in charge, however, it was a responsible decision and one they would make again.
By Rowena Portch
NBC: Email Threat Considered “Hoax” Closes LAUSD Schools
The Atlantic: What’s Happening at Los Angeles Schools?
BBC News: Los Angeles Schools Shut Over Email Threat to Students
Los Angeles Times: Threat That Closed Down L.A. Schools Appears to be a Hoax
Image by Donald P. Cram Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – Creative Commons License