‘Hoax’ email threat shuts down all public schools in Los Angeles (but New York keeps its schools open)

The Independent is reporting that all public schools in Los Angeles were closed on Tuesday after a threat was emailed to officials in California and New York that were later considered a hoax.

“The preliminary assessment is that it was a hoax or something designed to disrupt school districts in large cities,” said Adam Schiff, California Representative and ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The investigation is ongoing as to where the threat originated from and who was responsible.”

The FBI, Los Angeles Police Department and LA Sheriffs all assisted the school to investigate the “credible bomb threat,” Monica Carazo, spokesperson for the LAUSD Superintendent’s Office told The Independent. 

Officer Wendy Reyes, an LAPD spokesperson, told The Independent that she was unable to specify the nature of the threat.

“The superintendent has elected to close the schools for the day,” she said during a phone interview. “We basically just respond to emergency calls that require immediate response. We are in high visibility especially around the schools.”

…In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that he was convinced there was no danger to schoolchildren who attended New York City schools, while NYPD Commissioner William Bratton accused LAUSD officials of overreacting. The city’s public schools refused to close their doors as officials deemed the threats were not credible.

Nearly an hour after Mr Cortines’ press conference, an LAUSD spokesman said that the threat came from an email associated with an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany, Reuters reports.

Charlie Beck, Los Angeles police chief, immediately defended the district’s decision: “It is very easy in hindsight to criticize a decision based on results that the deciders could have never known. I think it’s irresponsible based on facts that have yet to be determined to criticize that decision at this point,” he said during a news conference.

“All of us have the same goal in mind: We want to keep our kids safe…”

More at: ‘Hoax’ email threat shuts down all public schools in Los Angeles


I’ve been speculating on this site for some time that disrupting schools through hoax security alerts is going to become a bigger and bigger issue as it is just so easy to achieve for anyone from a prankster to a disgruntled student to a genuine terrorist and schools will, in most cases, feel they have to close until they are given the all clear.

In this case, LA schools shut while NY schools dismissed the threat. Which approach do you think was the correct one?

It is clearly an awful dilemma because if all schools take the safety first approach, like LA did here, the hoaxers will know they can keep spreading disruption at will. However, if you follow NY’s lead but get it wrong when the threat is real, the consequences are unimaginable. 

That said, it would be interesting to know how many genuine school terror incidents have followed a warning – surely most, if not all. are completely unannounced?

Your thoughts and reactions? Please share in the comments or via Twitter…

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  1. thiskidsthinkin

    In Northern Ireland during the Troubles, schools didn’t close unless something was actually found on or near the grounds. In saying that, if schools are going to close because of someone ringing in a bomb threat, children need to be doing schoolwork online instead. If they don’t have an online alternative, all children learn is to shut school (perhaps to get out of a test) all they have to do is ring in a threat. The computer savvy can use an ip address from anywhere in the world.

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