Bomb Threat Shuts Down Los Angeles Public Schools

Many Angelenos have been thrown into chaos on Tuesday after a "credible bomb threat" shut down the entire public school district.

Los Angeles Public School District was sent into turmoil Tuesday morning after the police department received what they’re calling a “credible bomb threat.” The city shut down more than 1,000 public schools in the wake of the mass shooting in San Bernardino that left 14 people dead. The Los Angeles Unified School District is the second largest school system in the country. According to its website, LAUSD enrolls more than 640,000 students.

Los Angeles Unified School District superintendent Ramon C. Cortines said at a press conference just after 7am on Tuesday that the threat was made electronically and that it targeted multiple schools. “It was not to one school, two schools or three schools — it was many schools, not specifically identified,” he said. “I am not taking the chance of bringing children any place, into any part of the building, until I know it is safe.”

California congressman Brad Sherman told CNN that the person who sent the email was claiming to be an extremist Muslim. He went on to say, however, that the text of the message gave him reason to doubt that the author was Muslim, though he didn't specify why.

The closure was widely criticized by students and parents across the school district. Many didn’t find out the schools were closed until they arrived in the morning. Bernys Maldonado who has three sons in Los Angeles Public Schools told the New York Times, “We were just preparing the lunches and about to walk out the door, when one of our teachers texted all the parents, and informed us all the schools were closed and to look at the news,” she said. “Honestly, I thought the teacher was making a mistake or exaggerating. Never in my imagination did I think there would be something like this.” 

According to Reuters, the Los Angeles authorities ordered more than 900 schools be closed and fully searched without consulting the FBI first. New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton said that New York received almost the exact same threat but deemed it not credible. He said that the decision in Los Angeles was an "overreaction." Bratton, who previously served as police chief in Los Angeles, said, "L.A. is a huge school system. To disrupt the daily schedules of half a million school children, their parents, daycare, buses based on an anonymous email, without consultation, if in fact, consultation did not occur with law enforcement authorities, I think it was a significant overreaction."

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio noted that the author of the email failed to capitalize the word “Allah” and considered the threat to likely be a hoax. Despite the criticism, however, Cortines stood by the decision to shut down LA's schools. “This is a rare threat,” he said. “We get threats all the time.”

-Bronte Price

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