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Emailed threats to NY, LA schools highlight worries

The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — When it comes to assessing threats, New York City and Los Angeles schools likely have more experience than most other districts in the country.

But their reactions were dramatically different Tuesday to the same threat of a large-scale jihadi attack with guns and bombs — LA dismissed all its classes while New York dismissed the warning as a hoax.

The divergent responses from the nation’s two biggest K-12 public school systems reflected what many in school security know: That deciding whether or not a threat is credible is hardly a mathematical process and the stakes in staying open or closing are high. It is one that school district officials around the country have weighed heavily in the wake of school shootings and threats.

Across the nation, small and large districts regularly encounter the challenge of deciphering threats, complicated today by more sophisticated technology that can make them harder to trace.

Even when a threat is determined to be a hoax, the consequences can be a severe, with the safety of thousands of children, millions of dollars in school funding, and the message each decision sends on the line.