Advertisement
California

Many parents complain that L.A. school district notified them too late about closings

Students return to school after bomb threat

Students like these at Thomas Starr King Middle School in Los Feliz return to school one day after the Los Angeles Unified School District closed more than 900 campuses because of a bomb threat.

(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

About 6 a.m. Tuesday, Claudia Arreola saw the news on TV: All campuses in the Los Angeles Unified School District were closed for a bomb threat. But she wanted to verify that information before she kept her children home for the day.

Her repeated calls to the Los Angeles Unified School District office were met with busy tones. So she eventually walked over to the Yorkdale Elementary School campus in Highland Park around 8 a.m. with her 9-year-old daughter, Amanda, and her son, a sixth-grade student there. They were told classes were canceled.

They headed home, and about two hours later, Arreola received an automated call from the district alerting her that classes were canceled. “It was frustrating,” she said. 

On Wednesday, Arreola tried to shake off the anxiety as she dropped her children off for school. Amanda made the sign of the cross over her chest, blew kisses and said, “I love you.”

Advertisement

Arreola was one of many parents who experienced chaos Tuesday as the second-largest school district in the country struggled to notify families that schools would be closed for the day.

Join the conversation on Facebook >>

Manzoor Azeez, whose son attends kindergarten at Yorkdale, received a recorded message from the district about 8 a.m., alerting him to something, he assumed. But he didn’t know what that was because the message was in Spanish, a language he doesn’t speak. 

“I didn’t know what they were saying,” he said.

Advertisement

Azeez then turned to Facebook, where he learned of the schools cancellation. The district could have been more efficient in how they notified parents, Azeez said, but he thought it handled the chaotic situation well overall.

“They did what they could,” he said. “I wasn’t mad.”

Angie Guinto learned about the school closures from her husband, who saw it on the news. About 10 a.m., she got a call from the district. The message was hours too late to be of any help, she said.

Interested in the stories shaping California? Sign up for the free Essential California newsletter >> 

“They should have called us earlier,” Guinto said.

The district also failed to assure parents that it was safe to return to school on Wednesday, Guinto said. She would have preferred for classes to be canceled for the rest of the week and to keep her daughter, Kirsten, away from campus until it was absolutely safe. 

“I don’t feel 100% safe leaving her. They said there would be police here, just in case, but there isn’t anybody here,” she said. “I have to go to work now and worry about her. I just want peace of mind.”

Follow the Times’ education initiative to inform parents, educators and students across California >> 

Advertisement

Guinto had planned on keeping Kirsten out of school Wednesday but reluctantly agreed after the girl pleaded to go.

“It’s science fun day,” she said. “I really wanted to come to school.”

For more Los Angeles news, follow @sjceasar

MORE ON THE L.A.U.S.D. CLOSURE

Threat to L.A. schools shows what it means to be terrorized

L.A. defends response to threat that New York dismissed as a hoax

L.A. school district could close two schools because of Porter Ranch gas leak


Newsletter
Get our Essential California newsletter
Advertisement