Congressman Adam Schiff said in an email, released by the Los Angeles Daily News, that this morning’s bomb threat against Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools is likely a hoax.
“While we continue to gather information about the threat made against Los Angeles and New York school departments, (the) preliminary assessment is that it was a hoax or something designed to disrupt school districts in large cities,” said Schiff, who is a member of the House Intelligence committee.
More than 900 of the district’s campuses and 187 charter schools were being searched throughout the day and more than 640,000 students were affected by Tuesday morning’s schools closure due an emailed bomb threat. Monday night, a school board member reported receiving an email mentioning specific schools, explosive devices, pistols and threats involving backpacks and packages.
“It (the threat) was not to one school, two schools, or three schools. It was many schools, not specifically identified but many schools,” Superintendent Ramon Cortines said during a live news conference aired on CNN at 7:30 a.m.
During a live 10 a.m. press conference, School Police Chief Steven Zipperman announced that schools will not be reopened until the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), mayor’s office and LAUSD board members reach a consensus over whether or not the schools are safe.
“We go based on the information we have and we collaborate with our law enforcement partners,” Zipperman said during the press conference. “I assure you, as school police chief, that while our campuses are having a walk through as we speak, that none of our schools will be reopened until we have been completely satisfied.”
Cortines said that he received a report from the police saying that multiple schools in the country’s second largest school district were targeted. LAPD is working with LAUSD police to ensure the safety of all school campuses. During the 10 a.m. news conference, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said he supports the decisions made by LAPD and LAUSD.
“We’re doing everything possible to ensure the safety of all of our children,” Garcetti said.
Parents who showed up to school early this morning were advised to pick up their children immediately at the Reunion Gate since the school day was canceled shortly after 7 a.m. All after-school activities, including sports, were canceled as well.
“We are taking this action in an abundance of caution to make sure that every child in LAUSD is absolutely safe,” LAUSD School Board President Steve Zimmer said during the live 7:30 a.m. news conference. “We need the cooperation of the whole of Los Angeles today.”
Principal Deb Smith said that all schools, including Birmingham Community Charter High School, Magnolia Science Academy and other schools near Daniel Pearl Magnet High School, were closed on Tuesday. Students were getting ready for the first day of finals this morning when they heard news of the school closures. Finals are now scheduled to begin on Wednesday and end on Friday.
“I found out through text messages from people at school first and soon after, my dad called me,” senior Jasmine Nuñez said. “At first I felt a little bit scared because so much has been going on lately with tragic events such as the San Bernardino shooting. I’m also concerned about finals.”
According to CNN, the threat was sent to a school board member via email which was routed through Frankfurt, Germany. According to The New York Police Department and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, New York schools also received the same threat, however their schools remained open.
“Our schools are safe. Kids should be in school today,” de Blasio said in the New York Times article ‘Police Say a Threat Made to New York Schools Is Not Credible.’ “We will be vigilant. But we are absolutely convinced our schools are safe.”
LAUSD will give new updates about every 30 minutes. Parents can also call the district (213) 241-2064 for more information. However currently all the lines are busy and it is almost impossible to get through.
“I’d be scared to go back to school tomorrow, they should just start winter break already because they could do the bombings any day, canceling school for one day won’t stop them,” sophomore Kimberly Chavez said.
— Kyrah Hunter
Jacqueline Tatulyan, Tahra Hunter and Nallely Delara contributed to this report.