After receiving a “credible threat” of violence involving backpacks and packages left at campuses, officials closed all Los Angeles Unified School District campuses Tuesday morning. The nation’s second-largest school district has more than 700,000 students and authorities said they plan a search operation of all of the LAUSD’s more than 900 schools. “I think it’s important to take this precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past,” LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines said.
In what was the deadliest terrorist attack on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, the move comes less than two weeks after two shooters killed 14 people in San Bernardino. Officials said the threat came in electronic form and was made to numerous but unspecified campuses. As a result, the decision was made to close them all for the day. According to the L.A. Times, Cortines, fearing the safety of schools and students, said he couldn’t take a chance so he asked police to search all campuses, adult school and early education centers before reopening Wednesday.
Los Angeles School Police Chief Steve Zipperman stated the Los Angeles Police Department and FBI were assisting with the threat investigation. “The threat is still being analyzed,” he said. “We have chosen to close our schools today until we can be sure our campuses are safe.”
According to Cortines, the school district regularly receives threats, but this one stood out for its scale. “This is a rare threat … It was not to one school, two schools or three schools, it was many schools,” Cortines told reporters at a press conference that began shortly before schools were to begin opening. “I am not taking the chance of taking children any place into the building until I know it’s safe.”
Reuters reports officials were not aware of any other threats to schools outside the district, adding that they would issue additional details on the threat later in the day. The recent San Bernardino attack as well as other recent mass shootings have pushed militant Islam and gun violence to the forefront of the U.S. presidential campaign.
Bus service was also canceled for the day. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority tweeted that all LAUSD students with a valid student ID could ride Metro buses and trains for free until noon. Other school districts in Southern California reported receiving no threats to their schools, and were operating their campuses normally on Tuesday.
LAUSD is the second largest school district in the country, serving more than 640,000 students between kindergarten and 12th grade, according to its website. There are more than 900 schools and 187 public charter schools in the district.An LAPD official described the threat to KTLA as a “terror threat.”
Tonight is the final GOP presidential debate of 2015. LAUSD is sure to be a main topic of the debate.