Los Angeles United School District (LAUSD), the second largest in the country, closed its doors to nearly 700,000 students and 60,000 employees after a terrorist threat. Yet, the largest school district, New York, received virtually the same threat and kept its doors open. Why?
I have been in two bomb threats. One was when I was teaching in an inner-city high school, and a student trying to avoid a test called it in to the police. The other threat came directly to me when I was operating the telephone system in a large hotel, and President Gerald Ford was staying there.
This was before 9/11 and before I took bomb threats all that seriously, but neither of the two bomb threats that I experienced was credible, fortunately.
LA is only 65 miles from the San Bernardino terrorists attacks that occurred just two weeks ago, and 14 people died. That experience changes people’s thinking about threats as theory and turns threats into a very real, gruesome possibility.
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif, spoke to Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s “Meet The Press Daily” about the incident:
“If this was not ISIS, not a terror organization, they’re nonetheless watching. And if they come to the conclusion that they can literally mail it in, call it in and disrupt large cities, they’re going to take advantage of that.”
New York schools stayed open. Mayor Bill de Blasio commented that the threat to the New York schools contained “nothing credible.” New York Police Commissioner William Bratton was critical of LAUSD’s decision to shut down all of its schools “significant overreaction.”
Victor Asal, chairman of public administration at the State University of New York at Albany, indicated that New York has a serious investment in “homeland security and terrorism response.” He said:
“Los Angeles doesn’t have that same kind of experience. So you take the investment New York has, and you take the nervousness that Los Angeles is feeling because it’s an hour away from San Bernardino, and that creates a situation where I would expect the two cities to react differently.”
Mother of an 8-year-old daughter, Lupe Vasquez, was offended by New York’s criticism of her school district’s decision:
“The New Yorkers were wrong to criticize us.”
Another mother took her 5-year-old daughter to school today and said that no one she knew was critical of the LAUSD superintendent’s decision to shut down:
“I’m glad they shut it down. We’re used to it, sad to say, the way the world is.”
It only takes one real school threat to do infinite damage, physically and emotionally. Yes, this threat was a criminal hoax, but I wouldn’t want to be the school superintendent who made the wrong decision.
Use this link to see the original and updated LAUSD article.