All public schools in the Los Angeles, California area have been ordered closed due to a threat, sending some 640,000 students home for at least the day.
“I as superintendent am not going to take the chance with the life of a student,” L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines said.
Parents were asked not to bring their students to school.
A law enforcement official said the threat that closed all schools in the vast Los Angeles Unified School District was emailed to a school board member and appeared to come from overseas.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the investigation. The official says the threat was sent late Monday.
New York City officials say they received the same threat that led to the closure of the Los Angeles school system but quickly concluded that it was a hoax.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday morning that he was “absolutely convinced” there was no danger to schoolchildren in New York.
New York Police Commissioner William Bratton said he thought Los Angeles officials overreacted by deciding to close the nation’s second-largest school system.
He said a school superintendent received the threatening email Tuesday morning.
Bratton said the person who wrote the note claimed to be a jihadist but made errors that made it clear the person was a prankster.
During a press conference Tuesday Los Angeles school officials said they received the electronic threat and were still analyzing it. They said the action was being taken out of an abundance of caution. Schools would remain closed until the threat was cleared, which they expected to happen by the end of the day.
“We need to cooperation of the whole of Los Angeles today,” said school board President Steve Zimmer. “We need families and neighbors to work together with our schools and with our employees to make sure our schools are safe throughout today.”
BREAKING: L.A. superintendent says, "This is a rare threat. We get threats all the time." https://t.co/tKw4IuNyLk
— Reuters U.S. News (@ReutersUS) December 15, 2015
The district, the second largest in the U.S., has more than 900 schools and 187 public charter schools.
The district spans 720 square miles (1,866 square kilometers) including Los Angeles and all or part of more than 30 smaller cities and some unincorporated areas.