Wednesday, August 12, 2020
US flag

L.A. USD closes all schools due to bomb threat

It has been determined that a bomb threat that caused the Los Angeles Unified School District to close about 900 schools today was a hoax, the New York Times reports.

Superintendent Ramon C Cortines of the Los Angeles school system and Steven K Zipperman, chief of its police department, said a threat was received by email that was made against not just one but several schools. The FBI was notified and, with “an abundance of caution,” the schools were all closed.

Officials in New York City said they had also received a similar threat Tuesday. Before they closed schools, they determined the threat to be a hoax.

The message sent to Los Angeles had elements that made it appear “not credible,” including a one-time failure to capitalize the word “Allah.” One representative said a devout Muslim, as claimed in the email, would take greater care when typing the word “Allah.”

Plus, no bomb was found.

The LAUSD serves approximately 640,000 students in grades K through 12, and none of them were in school Tuesday as a result of the superintendent “not taking the chance of bringing children anyplace, into any part of the building, until I know it is safe.”

Editorial

That’s a tall order, and I’m sure Mr Cortines didn’t mean to suggest he could know with any degree of certainty that buildings were safe—not in today’s climate of fear.

However, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance,” to quote President Franklin D Roosevelt’s first inaugural. Today our schools retreated; tomorrow let’s hope they advance.

From the beginning, especially given the similar threat in New York, this had all the earmarks of a hoax. Terrorists simply don’t phone ahead to warn people there’s going to be an explosion, a shooting, or other mayhem; they just murder people in cold blood.

But whatever my hindsight-aware, armchair, Monday-morning-quarterback analysis may be, I fully support Mr Cortines’s decision to close the schools. If it had not been a hoax and he had made the other call, we would be condemning him, and so we cannot allow the actual results to sway our opinions.

Furthermore, I hope the person responsible for disrupting the lives of nearly a million people, from students to teachers to families, even though nobody got physically hurt, is punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Sure, we Americans push the panic button quite easily these days, following the attacks in Colorado Springs, San Bernardino, and then in Paris and other cities here and abroad. For better or worse, it’s now entirely possible to disrupt millions of lives and cause fear to take root in our large cities and in our schools just by sending an email that refers to a bomb in a backpack.

Police and the FBI may also be on heightened alert for threats. I take comfort in knowing that school personnel and students were never in danger, but there’s no easy answer for this situation if you’re the superintendent of a school district.

And in our communities at large, we can keep bomb materials and assault weapons out of the hands of all the people we want; all criminals need to spread fear is an Internet connection and a free email account. They don’t even have to gain entry to the US, so a wall wouldn’t help either.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Voxitatis congratulates the COVID Class of 2020

2020 is unique and, for high school graduates, different from anything they've seen. Proms, spring sports, & many graduation ceremonies are cancelled. Time for something new.

Vertical addition (m3.nbt.2) math practice

3rd grade, numbers and operations in base 10, 2, 3-digit vertical addition practice problem

Rubber ducks (m3.oa.1) math practice

3rd grade, operational and algebraic thinking, 1, rubber ducky modeling practice problem

Distance learning begins as Covid-19 thrives

What we learn during & from coronavirus, a challenging & imminent crisis, will provide insights into so many aspects of our lives.

Calif. h.s. choir sings with social distancing

Performances with the assistance of technology can spread inspiration across the globe even as the coronavirus spreads illness and disease.

Families plan to stay healthy during closures

Although schools are doing what they can to keep students learning and healthy during the coronavirus outbreak, that duty now shifts to parents.

Illinois temporarily closes all schools

IL schools will be closed on Tuesday, March 17, through at least March 30. Schools in 18 states are now closed due to coronavirus.

Coronavirus closures & cancellations

Many schools are closed and sports tournaments cancelled across America during what the president called a national emergency: coronavirus.

Coronavirus closes schools in Seattle

The coronavirus pandemic has caused colleges to cancel classes, and now Seattle Public Schools became the nation's first large district to cancel classes due to the virus.

Most detailed images ever of the sun

A new telescope at the National Solar Observatory snapped the most detailed pictures of the sun's surface we have ever seen.

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.