LOS ANGELES, CA – All schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District have been ordered closed due to a threat.
Authorities in New York City said they received the same threat but quickly concluded that it was a hoax.
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters that he was “absolutely convinced” there was no danger to schoolchildren in his city.
“There was nothing credible about the threat. It was so outlandish,” de Blasio said.
Police Commissioner William Bratton quipped that it looked like the sender of the threat watched a lot of the Showtime terrorism drama “Homeland.”
Superintendent Ramon Cortines said every campus would be searched, and he asked for a report on the searches certifying that all buildings are safe.
The threat, de Blasio and Bratton said, came in the form of a “generic” email to many cities around the country. In New York, it was received by a superintendent early Tuesday.
Bratton called the closure a “significant overreaction.”
“We cannot allow ourselves to raise levels of fear,” said Bratton, who once ran the Los Angeles Police Department.
The person who wrote the note, Bratton said, claimed to be a jihadist but made errors that indicated the writer was really a prankster, including spelling the word “Allah” with a lowercase “a.”
District spokeswoman Shannon Haber said the threat was sent by email to a school board member and was believed to have come from an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany.
Authorities would not elaborate on the threat, saying it was still being evaluated. They described the shutdown was a precaution.
Los Angeles schools commonly get threats, but Cortines called this one rare.
“It was not to one school, two schools or three schools,” he said at a news conference. “It was many schools, not specifically identified. But there were many schools. That’s the reason I took the action that I did … It was to students at schools.”
The San Bernardino attack influenced the decision to close the entire district, Cortines said.
School district spokeswoman Ellen Morgan announced the closure Tuesday but released no further details ahead of a press conference at district headquarters. Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he has ordered that all schools be searched and that a separate statement would be forthcoming.
Cortines acknowledged the district receives regular threats, and when asked what sets this one apart, he cited the recent terror attack in nearby San Bernardino that killed 14 people – the deadliest on U.S. soil since 9/11.
The threat was made to “many schools” but did not identify any by name, Cortines said.
Parents were directed to present ID while picking up their children who might have already arrived for the day, according to the district’s Twitter feed. The board president said all students are currently safe.
The district is the second largest in the nation, has 640,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade and more than 900 schools and 187 public charter schools.
The district spans 720 square miles including Los Angeles and all or part of more than 30 smaller cities and some unincorporated areas.
Los Angeles Mayor said he does not have authority to close schools, but supports decision to do so.
This is breaking news. Updates will be added as they come in.