Threats sent to schools in South Florida, Houston
Miami — Students in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Houston and Dallas were heading to school Thursday, hours after school officials in those cities said they received threats similar to the ones received by the Los Angeles and New York school districts earlier this week.
Meanwhile, two Indiana school districts did cancel classes after also getting threats.
The Miami-Dade County, Dallas and Houston school districts announced on their websites that “less-than-credible” threats were received by email late Wednesday evening, and that schools would be open Thursday. Officials from Broward County Public Schools in Fort Lauderdale said they also received a threat. In a tweet sent Thursday, the district announced that all schools would be open Thursday morning.
The districts are among the nation’s largest — Miami ranks fourth, Broward is sixth, Houston is seventh and Dallas is 14th.
In Dallas, officials with the Dallas Independent School District said some teachers and staff members at two schools — Pinkston High and Martinez Elementary — received emailed threats and notified district officials. The district’s police department activated its emergency response protocol and began working with other law enforcement agencies to make sure the schools were safe.
Officials say bomb-sniffing dogs were brought to both schools and at 2:20 a.m. CST, Dallas police said they found no credible threat. Schools across the Dallas area were open Thursday.
“We need to make sure that we don’t overreact to fear,” Dallas police Chief David Brown said.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings agreed, adding, “Obviously someone is trying to scare Dallas and that is not going to work.”
Robert Mock, police chief for the Houston Independent School District, said random overnight searches by explosives detecting dogs and patrol officers turned up nothing after district officials, including the superintendent, received the threat by email.
So far Thursday morning, “everything’s been normal, schools are in session, kids are learning,” Mock said.
He added that he doesn’t want to downplay the message because “a threat is a threat.” But he said the message referred to weapons and explosives among unsophisticated content that was “so far over the top the logistics just didn’t pan out.”
School officials in Miami and Fort Lauderdale haven’t released details about the threats, but said on their websites they were similar to those received in New York and Los Angeles earlier in the week. Los Angeles, which has the nation’s second-largest school districts, closed Tuesday after receiving the threat. Officials in New York determined the threat was a hoax and kept schools open that day.
In Miami, school officials said district police immediately contacted federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and promised to deploy extra security to schools.
Law enforcement officers were making sweeps of schools in Houston to ensure student safety. They encouraged parents and students to be vigilant and report any suspicious activity to police and said no specific school was threatened there.
In central Indiana, two school districts canceled classes Thursday. The Danville Community School Corporation said two students were arrested after allegedly making threats against schools in separate incidents. And in Plainfield, west of Indianapolis, students were told to stay home Thursday after a threat was “directed to the high school.”
It’s rare for a major U.S. city to close all its schools because of a threat and the closures in Los Angeles reflected the lingering unease in Southern California following the attack that killed 14 people at a holiday luncheon two weeks ago in San Bernardino.