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Districts' Opposite Responses to Terrorism Threat Highlight Challenge of Educating & Keeping Students Safe

How LAUSD, NYC’s Opposite Responses to Terrorism Threat Highlights the Challenge of Both Educating & Keeping Students Safe

Yesterday, the nation’s second-largest school district abruptly shut down all 900 of its schools, keeping roughly twice the size of Iceland’s population in students home for the day in what is being called an “unprecedented move.”

On the other side of the country, the nation’s largest school district operated uninterrupted.

Both Los Angeles Unified School District and New York City Public Schools, however, received identical electronic threats that mentioned explosive devices, assault rifles and machine pistols, the Los Angeles Times said.

Just as New York officials were determining the e-mail to be a hoax and deciding to keep schools operating as usual, Los Angeles schools chancellor, Ramon C. Cortines was sending a text to parents directing them to keep their children home as authorities searched through the district’s schools.

When officials in both school districts made their respective decisions, neither were aware that the other had received the same threat.

Cortines said that he was “not going to take a chance with the life of a student,” while on the other coast New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke of the importance of not overreacting.

Some criticized LAUSD officials for "setting a precedent — showing that pranksters, or worse, could hobble a major city,” while others, with last week’s San Bernardino shooting and the third-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre in mind, expressed sympathy and understanding.

Certainly, across the country, individual schools are closed on a daily basis in response to threats received, even though the threat is more often than not the result of a a beleaguered student using the word “bomb” to garner attention.

Part of a school system’s responsibility is to keep the students it educates safe, which LAUSD proved can be quite the modern day challenge. It raises the question: how do schools best keep students safe?

 

 

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

12/16/2015

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