L.A. shuts down schools over jihadi-attack scare

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

City Leaders Downplay Perceived Dispute Between L.A., N.Y. Over School Closures Prompted By Threats.

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) – Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and police Chief Charlie Beck Wednesday downplayed a perceived dispute between Los Angeles and New York officials over the handling of similar terror threats sent to schools in both cities. Even though the threat that shut down the Los Angeles Unified School District on Wednesday was ultimately deemed not credible, they felt safe but also experienced tinges of fear and anxiety on their first day back.

Los Angeles has defended its controversial decision to shut more than 1,000 schools after America’s two biggest education authorities received threats of a large-scale jihadi attack with guns and bombs.In light of the recent massacre in San Bernardino, only minutes away from L.A. by freeway, Los Angeles officials did what they felt was needed to protect our kids.

Authorities in New York reported receiving the same “generic” email but decided there was no danger to schoolchildren, with mayor Bill de Blasio concluding that the threat contained “nothing credible”. To the editor: I can’t help but think that the fear and panic — and that’s what LAUSD’s decision and public announcement were largely driven by — had a lot to do with the fact that the email sender identified himself as an “extremist Muslim.” Even otherwise responsible school administrators and law enforcement officials can’t seem to reasonably assess a threat in the face of the dreaded M-word, even when it’s employed so awkwardly. In Los Angeles, Ramon Cortines, the schools chancellor, apparently with the mayor’s OK, closed 1,100 schools for the day with no advance notice; a lot happened, but not a terrorist attack. New York police commissioner William Bratton agreed, quipping that it looked like the sender of the threat had watched a lot of the Showtime cable TV terrorism drama Homeland.

Whether or not to close the schools was a risk-management decision, and when the future isn’t known with certainty, some fraction of good decisions will lead to bad outcomes, and are not bad choices for that reason. And when she first heard about the threat, she feared for her family. “I have a sibling at a middle school,” she said. “I don’t want to lose any family members. I find LAUSD’s response totally out of proportion to the actual threat, in exactly the same way that, in the wake of the San Bernardino terror attack, people lining up to buy guns was totally out of proportion. It is also certain that the city will have taught lost souls, malevolent pranksters and kids unprepared for their chemistry exams that they have a good chance of shutting down the schools with an anonymous e-mail.

These are already difficult times and they call for a little common sense, something that seems to be in short supply all across the country these days. Every day the mayor fails to order the immediate evacuation of the entire city puts everyone in it at real risk of death in the big earthquake that we know is coming.

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