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One Threat. Two very different responses.



In the early hours of the 15th of December in the U.S., the two largest school districts in Los Angeles and New York received a threat from an alleged Muslim extremist.

The threat was said to detail plans of violence to take place in all schools in the two districts with bombs allegedly being left inside schools and further shootings scheduled to occur.

The two school districts had differing responses to the threat. Neither response was wrong – both made justified actions based on their assessment of the threat.

The Los Angeles Schools Superintendent Ramon Cortines decided to shut down more than 900 schools with over 640,000 students asked to stay at home. He stated that he would not “take a chance with the life of a student”.

The New York School District, however, decided against shutting down. Instead they deemed the threat not credible. New York Police Commissioner William J. Bratton stated that the decision was made because there was no point in “raising levels of fear” in relation to an “outlandish” threat.

The New York District have heavily criticized Los Angeles’ response to the threat, labelling it a “significant overreaction”. However, given Los Angeles’ close proximity to San Bernardino (where 14 people were killed by a terrorist attack earlier this month), it may seem that their “overreaction” can be forgiven and even justified.

However, critics of the Los Angeles response have stated that the false alarm has highlighted the school district’s shortcomings in handling a crisis both in their coordination with government officials and their ability to reassure the public and media.

The opposing responses by the two school districts has demonstrated the necessary implementation of specialized crisis plans for schools and universities to assist in dealing with the unexpected.

Briggs Communications is able to create crisis management plans designed for your particular school or university. Call now for your free consultation or learn how crisis training could help your school/university respond effectively to a threat.

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