“This is a rare threat. We get threats all the time,”...“I think the circumstances in neighboring San Bernardino, I think what has happened in the nation, I think what happened internationally — I, as superintendent, am not going to take the chance with the life of a student.”
~ Supt. Ramon Cortines LAUSD
Tuesday Dec. 15th, 2015, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) which serves over 655,000 children, at over 900 campuses and 187 public charter schools in Los Angeles was closed due to multiple terror threats.
Emails, from a currently unknown source, sent to Board members and other high ranking officials within the school district, indicated that bombs, guns, rifles, and even nerve gas agents would be used to rain terror on students at undisclosed locations all over the city. Upon evaluation of the threats, school officials quickly invoked the help of local police and subsequently all branches of law enforcement including several federal law enforcement agencies to bring serious action to addressing the threats and protecting children. LAUSD School Supt. Ramon Cortines made what I consider to be a brave, and bold decision to make sure that both students and employees would be protected opting to close all school campuses and conduct detailed searches of school property to make sure that all was clear.
Of course, the Supt.'s actions have drawn much criticism from individuals contending that the rush to close schools was too hasty and that the seriousness of the letter could have been better evaluated in light of the fact that the emails are suspected to be some sort of hoax aimed at disrupting the normal flow of life.
I simply say to the critics, what IF the email was not a hoax and what if ONE child, teacher, or district employee was killed as a result of not acting or taking precautions against the threat? It would seem that some people would rather "look" normal and unaffected by terrorism and terrorists and live in a world of fantasy and make-believe. The only thing is, that most, if not all of the critics, don't have a single child in the school district and only play "arm chair quarterback" from a distance.
Can this Supt. be criticized for looking at the situation, assessing the climate of current events, and reconciling that the children and adults that care for our kids would be better off missing a day of education until the treat can be fully assessed?
I say KUDOS to Supt. Cortines! Job WELL DONE in protecting the kids and adults of the LAUSD!
What Do I Know?
Among things that I have done for a living is identify myself as one of those certified and licensed School Resource Officers (SRO) that are essential to the daily function of most urban and inner city schools and school districts.
In that capacity of serving our community and children, I was able to observe what we are dealing with up close when it comes to threats, behavioral issues and the safety of all individuals who enter our schools daily. On one occasion I witnessed children attempting to purchase certain chemicals from the science lab of a particular school, with a stated intent of making a bomb...Yes, you read it right. Students, in school, looking to secure chemicals to make a bomb, and openly telling the teachers what they want the chemical for.
In that particular case, although the students were handled and addressed by city and possibly even state law enforcement officials with higher authority and jurisdiction, there was no effort to close the school, abbreviate the day, or do anything out of the normal.
In that situation, I wondered, what if there is more to this than meets the eye? What if the extent of their inquiry is more advanced than initially believed? Wouldn't we all be at risk?
In this scenario, and many others, the appearance of "normalcy" was the priority. However, what would have happened if someone was damaged in some way while at school as a result of these young people's apparently devious desires?
Are we, as a society, willing to trade what appears to be "normal" for our very own safety and security? If so, why and how can we call that a humane outlook or approach to life? I mean, if you place yourself in harms way to help others, that is one thing, that is even noble in any case of which I am aware, but to place me in harms way without notification of your intent to do so and against my knowledge of the seriousness of the situation is borderline sociopathic.
The director of the FBI currently says that the United States is under the greatest terror threat since 9/11. In the most recent CNN Republican Presidential debate Senator Rand Paul said that he believes that we defeat terrorism and terrorists by "showing them that we do not fear them". For him the display of no fear seemed to mean that we should not live or conduct ourselves differently even in light of current threats.
Republican Presidential Candidate Donald Trump suggests that we stop everything involving immigration of individuals who identify themselves as Muslim, from hostile countries, until such time as we can guarantee the safety and security of Americans within our boarders and weed out all those that intend to do us harm.
While there is no easy political solution, one thing is sure...no one has a right to jeopardize the life of another for political reasons or political correctness. We are not living in a normal time and we cannot do things as we normally have done in time past expecting either different results or an increase in our safety and security.
The Supt. made a decision that could have saved countless families and fellow Americans severe grief and heartache. If there is an error to make, let it be made on the side of security, safety and precaution for all.