LAUSD closures are a disruption for adults, and a bit of relief for some students

At Hollenbeck Middle School in Boyle Heights, Principal Randy Romero was locking up the front gates when a parent with a student in the passenger seat drove up to ask to ask if there would be school the next day.

“We’re going to send everyone a message by telephone and on our website,” Romero told the man in Spanish. “We’ll let you know.”

None of the school’s 1,100 students were on campus when the announcement was sent out that school was closed, and the campus was deserted at the opening bell because of a threat, Romero said.

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The Eastside school was just one of more than 900 L.A. Unified schools, including charter schools and special education centers, closed because of the threat -- which was traced to an IP address in Frankfurt, Germany.

Around the corner, Ana Rodriguez, 11, a sixth-grade student at Sunrise Elementary School, walked with her older sister to the corner store to pick up some coffee and bread for an unexpected breakfast at home.

Ana woke up to see something about a bomb threat on the news, which frightened her. She was worried about her teachers, and is nervous about going back to school Wednesday.

“I’m scared that a bomb could explode at my school,” she said.


No bomb has been found and it’s not clear if the threat sent was a hoax. New York authorities also received a threat to city schools, but said that it was not credible.

Down the block, Maria Garibay walked hand-in-hand with her daughter, a third-grader at Euclid Avenue Elementary School. She was on her way to the store to buy eggs for breakfast for her children, who also include a son who is a ninth-grader at Roosevelt High School and another son who is a fifth-grader at Euclid Avenue Elementary.

She saw on the news that school was canceled, so she kept her children at home, but had not yet heard anything from the schools.

“Imagine if they didn’t cancel school and something happened -- it would be a tragedy,” she said in Spanish. “I’d much rather have them stay home with me.”


She said that, luckily, her husband had a day off from work and could watch the kids while she worked in the afternoon.

Alexis Diaz, a 12th-grade student at Roosevelt High, and his little brother, glided by the deserted high school campus on their hoverboards, sipping on steaming hot chocolate.

Diaz got a call from his cousin early Tuesday morning telling him that school was canceled. He thought his cousin was playing a prank on him, but he turned on the news and saw that it was true.

The cancellation of school was serendipitous for Diaz.


“I thought, well, that’s good, because I have finals,” he said. “I was ready for the AP Spanish test, but not history.”

He immediately took a photo of the newscast, which showed school board President Steve Zimmer hunched over a microphone at a morning news conference. He added text that said “No school” with a surprised-face emoji, and sent it on Snapchat to his friends.

So far, it had been viewed 97 times. Many of his classmates spread the news the same way.

Miguel Real, 13, rode up the block toward Yorkdale Elementary School in Highland Park on his skateboard and studied the message written with marker on butcher paper on the front door. “No school today,” it read.


He’d just been sent home from nearby Burbank Middle School and his old elementary school was on his way home. He needed to tell his mom, who knew nothing of the cancellation of classes across Los Angeles.

“She don’t even know yet what’s going on -- she’s going to freak,” Miguel said.

His friend Angel Juarez, 14, was on his way to school when he heard something about a terrorist bomb threat, which worried him a bit.

“But I was like “Hell yeah, no school!” he said.


Juan Carlos Cabrera, 15, knew something was wrong when he saw the principal of Collegiate Charter High School of Los Angeles, east of downtown L.A., standing at the entrance of the campus with her right hand raised.

“Stop -- do not come in here,” Principal Vanessa Jackson warned. “We heard someone was going to bomb our schools. Now calm down and return to your homes.”

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s crazy,’” Juan, a freshman said. “On the other hand, we get the day off.”

He paused and added: “I thank the school district and police for keeping us students safe.”


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Across the street from his home, the gates at Lorena Street Elementary School were locked and the campus was empty.

At Garvanza Elementary near Figueroa Street and York Boulevard, the campus was quiet and the gates locked by 7:45 a.m.

Principal Jennifer Gage said most families appeared to have received the notification because few families showed up. She said she was fielding phone calls and her plant manager was searching the campus.


But some families showed up to school anyway.

Michael Jones drove up with his two first-graders in tow, knocked on the front entrance and then pushed the button on the intercom outside the door.

“There’s no school today. Take your son home,” Gage told him over the intercom.

“What’s wrong?” Jones asked.


“School is closed for the day,” Gage said.

“Come back tomorrow?”

“We will send more information,” Gage said.

Jones returned to the car with a perplexed look on his face. “I’m so confused,” he said. “What’s wrong. I know it ain’t Christmas. What happened?”


When told that L.A. Unified had received a bomb threat and closed all schools, Jones said he’d received no notification and feels that district officials should have done a better job informing everyone.

“That’s scary. I love my kids,” he said.

Another parent, Ruben Martinez, said he also had not received any notification. But that didn’t seem to matter to his 10-year-old son, Bobby Crevelli.

“Yiperee! No school!” he whooped as he ran back down the school stairs.


Sarah Nichols of Echo Park walked by the Sandra Cisneros Learning Academy with her four young children shortly after 9 a.m. She was pushing her 1-year-old son in a stroller while her school-age kids -- sons, 6 and 7, and daughter, 5 -- ran ahead of her, giggling.

She had just gotten the children dressed for school when she heard on the news that school was canceled. They were just walking by the school later in the morning, knowing it was closed, but her sons still wore their new backpacks because they were proud of them and didn’t want to take them off.

Parents, how are you feeling about the school threats? >>

Nichols said she was going to keep her children with her Tuesday.


“I would prefer for them to be with me under the circumstances,” she said.

Nichols didn’t want to explain to the young kids what terrorism was, what kind of danger might have awaited. She just told them it “wasn’t safe to go to school today.”

“I didn’t go into detail because I didn’t want their little minds to wander,” Nichols said.

Still, they asked questions, she said: “Mommy, what’s going to happen?”


She told them: “Let’s just pray about it. Let’s just pray to God that he keeps all the kids safe.”

Twitter: @sjceasar, @haileybranson, @teresawatanabe and @louissahagun


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