Education

Long Beach schools among several in US to receive threats

Students arrive at the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Students are heading back to class a day after an emailed threat triggered a shutdown of the vast Los Angeles Unified School District.
Students arrive at the Ramon C. Cortines School of Visual and Performing Arts in downtown Los Angeles on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015. Students are heading back to class a day after an emailed threat triggered a shutdown of the vast Los Angeles Unified School District.
Nick Ut/AP

The Long Beach Unified School District was among several school districts throughout the nation that decided to remain open Thursday after receiving email threats. Long Beach officials deemed the threat it received late Wednesday night to be not credible and decided to keep schools open and on the usual schedule for the district's 79,000 students.

"After Los Angeles schools received threats earlier this week, other schools districts in the United States have received similar threats — including the Long Beach Unified School District — which have been deemed not credible by law enforcement,'' a Long Beach police statement said.

"We are working closely with the LBUSD, and will continue to monitor the situation, have a high visibility presence at all Long Beach schools, and remain in communication with our federal, state and local counterparts to stay apprised of the situation,'' the police statement  said.

Similar threats to school districts were also reported in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Texas, Florida and Indiana.

Officials with the San Francisco Unified School District said Thursday that officials deemed the threat not credible. Authorities said they inspected all schools and found nothing suspicious. Police presence was increased at schools around the district, which has 57,000 students.

Officials for the Clark County School District in Las Vegas discovered an emailed threat after 9 a.m. Thursday that was similar to those reported in other cities, but they kept schools open after deeming the threat "less than credible," a district spokeswoman said. The district — the fifth-largest in the nation with 356 campuses and 320,000 students — sent a letter to parents saying principals and school staff had been asked to stay alert and keep students calm and focused on learning, she said.

In Florida, Orange County Superintendent Barbara Jenkins said during a news conference in Orlando that an email threat was sent to the district's general email account late Wednesday. Law enforcement was notified and checked it out, and then schools opened Thursday morning.

Similar threats were also reported in Miami and Fort Lauderdale. 

In Miami, school district police immediately contacted law enforcement agencies and decided to open schools. In a tweet sent Thursday morning, Broward County Public Schools in Fort Lauderdale also said a threat had been received, but students should report to school as usual.

In Texas, threats were received in the Houston, Dallas and McAllen school districts.

Houston school district police Chief Robert Mock said nothing unusual was found following email threats that prompted random searches of schools.

Mock said explosives-detecting dogs and extra patrols were dispatched after the email was received Wednesday night. He said so far everything was normal Thursday and kids were in school.

Mock said he didn't want to downplay the message because "a threat is a threat," but the email referred to weapons and explosives among unsophisticated content that was "so far over the top the logistics just didn't pan out."

The Dallas Independent School District received a similar threat Wednesday night, officials said.

The Dallas district announced on its website that schools were opening Thursday after an emailed threat sent to several school district staff and teachers at Pinkston High School and Martinez Elementary School was deemed not credible.

In McAllen, an emailed statement to parents from the McAllen Independent School District said it appeared the district received the same threatening email that earlier targeted schools in New York and California. The statement said the South Texas district "was able to trace the email to the same server that was used" in those two hoaxes. The Texas district did not elaborate.

The statement said several current and former school trustees received the message Wednesday night via their board email addresses.

The McAllen ISD, with about 25,000 students and 33 campuses, was working with the FBI and other law enforcement Thursday in the investigation into the hoax threats. Extra police officers were being stationed at McAllen schools, with increased patrols, as a precaution.

In Indiana, three school districts canceled Thursday's classes after officials said threats were made against their schools.

Danville (Indiana) Community School Corporation canceled classes following the alleged threats, including threats from two students who've been arrested. Danville police Chief William Wright sayid a 14-year-old freshman and a 17-year-old sophomore were arrested early Thursday after the boys allegedly made threats against Danville schools in separate incidents.

Wright said a third threat posted on social media early Thursday and apparently "tied to the Plainfield School Corporation threat" had prompted Danville schools to cancel its classes. Plainfield Community School Corporation just west of Indianapolis also canceled classes due to a threat "directed to the high school."

Danville Community School Corporation Superintendent Tracey Shafer said the individual making the threats against Danville schools may have also threatened Plainfield schools.

A third suburban Indianapolis school district canceled classes after receiving a threat.

The Franklin Community Schools south of Indianapolis issued a statement saying it canceled Friday classes after receiving a "serious" threat and consulting with police. It said the validity of the threat received Thursday afternoon remained in question.

The statement did not disclose the nature of the threat, but Superintendent David Clendening told the Johnson County Daily Journal that police dogs were searching the Franklin Community High School after a caller reported a homemade bomb in a locker room area. The school also tweeted that it was on lockdown. The district said it will resume classes Jan. 5.

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This story was updated with the time when Long Beach Unified School District received threat, and the reported threats in Las Vegas and suburban Indianapolis.