The Cable

Los Angeles Schools Close Due to Unspecified Threat

Officials cite the San Bernardino attack in their decision to shut down schools across Los Angeles.

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Every Los Angeles public school was shut down Tuesday morning due to what officials described as an “electronic threat” against the second-largest school system in the country. U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House Select Committee on Intelligence, said later Tuesday that it appears to be a hoax. 

At a press conference, the school district’s superintendent, Ramon Cortines, did not specify how the threat was delivered, but said it mentioned “backpacks” and “talked about other packages.” The closing affects 640,000 students in more than 900 schools and 187 charter schools. He said the threat was made against “many” schools.

“I think it is important that I take the precaution based on what has happened recently and what has happened in the past,” Cortines added. “Before the day is over, I want every school to be searched to make sure that it is safe for children and safe for staff to be there on Wednesday.”

Cortines was referring to the recent terrorist attack that killed 14 at a holiday office party in San Bernardino, about 60 miles east of Los Angeles. The shooters have been identified as U.S. citizen Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, his Pakistan-born wife. The FBI believes they were inspired by Islamic extremism.

Still, as of yet, there is no indication Tuesday’s school threat was made by anyone connected to radical Islam, though the FBI is investigating. Schools were not open when the decision to close them was made, though some students had already arrived.

Classes were also canceled Tuesday at San Bernardino Valley College after a bomb threat against the school Monday evening. Police have since determined the threat was a hoax.

This post has been updated to reflect breaking news. 

Photo credit: Robyn Beck/Getty Images

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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