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'Credible terror threat' forces All Los Angeles Unified School District schools to close down

Wave of fear drowns Los Angeles midday

Adam Nagourney and Richard Perez-Pena reporting for The New York Times: Public schools throughout all of The Los Angeles were hastily shut down today, with students and teachers being sent to their homes.

Police refused to elaborate on how the threat was received, or on the nature of it, however, officials said that it was a credible bomb threat against the nation’s second-largest school system. The threat was electronic, said Ramon C. Cortines, the superintendent of schools. The Los Angeles Police Department and the F.B.I. are investigating.

“It was not to one school, two schools or three schools — it was many schools, not specifically identified,” Mr. Cortines said at a news conference shortly after 7 a.m. He said the threat was explicitly “to students at schools.”

“I am not taking the chance of bringing children any place, into any part of the building, until I know it is safe… This is a rare threat,” Mr. Cortines said. “We get threats all the time.”

He would not elaborate on what it was about this one that forced such a quick and hasty response, but he cited circumstances like the San Bernardino massacre and other world events, an apparent reference to incidents like Islamic State attacks on Paris.

Schools would remain closed down until the police and school administrators had completed their search of every building.

“I’ve asked the plant managers to walk the school, and if they see anything that is out of order to call the police,” Mr. Cortines said. ”Not to touch anything, but if they see anything out of line to contact the proper authorities.”.

The Los Angeles Unified School District has more than 640,000 students, enrolled in 900 schools and 187 public charter schools, sprawling across more than 720 square miles. As of now, the situation could only be described as ‘on the brink of chaos.’

This is a developing story.

EXPERT OPINION

Joshua Tartakovsky

It is a very sad time for Southern California when a rumor regarding  a potential terrorist threat succeeds in closing down over 1,100 schools and keeping over a half a million children at home. In Syria, in Palestine, in Israel, in Pakistan and in Kashmir, children face constant terrorist attacks or wars but still manage to continue their studies as usual and certainly do not stop them unless there is a very valid reason to do so.

The management of schools should show greater responsibility and calmness in the handling of this situation.

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