Santa Clarita Valley Schools are open today, unaffected by the Los Angeles Unified School District’s reaction to a terrorist threat it received by email from an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany.
The decision to close 900 LAUSD schools was prompted by an “electronic threat” received early Tuesday which “is still being analyzed,” said School District Police Chief Steve Zipperman in an interview with CNN.
Former Los Angeles Police Chief Bill Bratton, now the New York City Police Commissioner, said the LAUSD overreacted. New York City schools received a similar threat but decided to remain open.
No threat has been received at any school in the Santa Clarita Valley, said Shirley Miller, public information officer for the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station.
The following statement was issued to William S. Hart Union School District parents by phone, email and social media:
“As many of you are aware, the Los Angeles Unified School District made the decision today to close schools as a result of a threat received last night. This closure is limited to LAUSD schools. Our Hart District schools remain open and in session. I want you to know that we are in constant contact with the Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Department and they are checking with their colleagues to ensure that the alleged threat is not connected to Santa Clarita Valley Schools. At this point, we have no reason to believe that the threat is extended beyond LAUSD. Law enforcement will be out in force today in the community and around all of the schools as a precautionary measure. As always, we work closely with local law enforcement and our site security teams to ensure our campuses are safe. If we receive any new information, we will pass it on to parents immediately. ”
The Saugus Union School District sent out a similar message: “As we are sure you are aware, there has been a security related closure for the entire LAUSD School District. We wanted you to be aware that we are working closely with our local law enforcement, who are in direct contact with their colleagues at LAUSD. There is no reason to believe that this threat to LAUSD extends beyond that district into surrounding areas. However, for the safety of our students and staff, you may notice an increase in sheriff/security presence, in and around our campuses, as well as an increase in visibility by campus supervisors, administrators and school deputies. We remain in high alert status in regards to security on campus, including gate checks, visitor check-ins and added patrols. Please know that if anything changes, we will be in contact immediately. In the meantime, please remain calm and know that we are moving forward, business as usual here in the Saugus Union School District.”
As did the Newhall School District: “All Newhall School District schools are open today. The District has NOT received any threats. Today, like every day, we are mindful of students’ and staffs’ safety and security.”
Castiac issued a statement stating: “All Castaic Union School District schools are open today. We have been in contact with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Department and are NOT affected by the LAUSD closure. Today, like every day, we are mindful of the safety and security of our students, staff, families and community.”
The “message” sent to LAUSD referred to backpacks and “other packages,” said District Superintendent Ramon Cortines to CNN. He added that many schools were threatened, though none by name. The threat was toward students in schools.
The LAUSD Board President Steve Zimmer confirmed that all students are safe within the district.
“We’ve got all resources to secure and make sure all of the campuses are safe, as well as the bus lots and checking all of the buses,” said L.A. City Councilman Mitch Englander. “Under the abundance of caution, there’s no reason to put any kids or families or people at risk.”
Englander added that, while no city blocks are being closed in a particular area, “we want folks to understand and be flexible with their families and their employees. This is certainly the first time we’ve seen this happen.”
However, students that have arrived at a school with the LAUSD will be with staff until parents or guardians can be contacted, according to a tweet by the LAUSD. The school district is requiring parents or guardians to bring a valid ID when picking up their child.
“There are faculty at all of the schools that have been identified, they do have contingency plans in place at all of the schools for any kind of situation like this,” said Englander. “The best thing to do is check with your local school as well as certainly to go by the school.”
Englander spoke with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, who is in talks with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority about allowing students to ride buses at no cost on Tuesday, he said.
The Los Angeles Unified School District, or LAUSD, is the second largest district in the nation and enrolls more than 640,000 students at more than 900 schools, according to the district’s website.