Dec. 15 was the new normal for school districts across America.
In Los Angeles, all 900 schools were closed in the wake of an email threat to members of the Los Angeles Board of Education.
But across the country in New York City, a nearly identical email from the same sender was dismissed as a hoax and schools were open as usual.
What school district made the correct decision? This time, both did. Nobody was injured.
However, a great deal of time and money were wasted in Los Angeles as day care and other arrangements had to be made for the 640,000 students who did not go to school Tuesday. In addition, their educations were disrupted.
LA School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines said he made the decision to order the school closures because he couldn’t take a chance with the students’ lives.
The decision to keep New York schools open was made by the city’s mayor, Bill de Blasio, He said the threat was “so generic, so outlandish” it couldn’t be taken seriously – suggesting the threat was a fan of the Showtime cable network’s show “Homeland.”
“It would be a huge disservice to our nation to close down our school system,” de Blasio said.
Threats have to be taken seriously. That does not mean schools have to be shut down without thought, it just means each threat must be analyzed to determine if the threat is credible. Errors, however, should be on the side of caution.
In addition, each threat must be investigated aggressively whether schools are closed or not. And the people who made the threat, whether their intent was serious or a hoax, must be prosecuted and imprisoned. Hoaxes are never funny in this arena.