Los Angeles Officials Defend Decision to Keep 640,000 Students Home After 'Credible' School Threat

Students from all the 1,000-plus schools overseen by the Los Angeles Unified School District were sent home early Tuesday after authorities received a safety threat that involved students' backpacks, officials said.

A news conference was hastily held around 7 a.m. Pacific to inform the public about the "credible" electronic threat sent around 5 a.m.

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Officials said the threat referenced multiple schools, where "backpacks..and other packages" could contain materials that pose a danger to teachers and students, but no mention of explosives was made.

LAUSD Superintendent Ramon Cortines told reporters that every school would be searched to ensure the safety of LAUSD students.

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"I think it's important that I take the precaution," said Cortines, who referenced the recent terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris while calling the morning's incident "a rare threat."

There are over 640,000 students housed within the LAUSD.

“The threat is still being analyzed,” Los Angeles School Police Chief Steve Zipperman said at the news conference. “We have chosen to close our schools today until we can be sure our campuses are safe.”

Meanwhile, officials in New York said Tuesday afternoon that they received the same threat as LA and were treating it as "non-credible."

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton called the LAUSD closure a "significant overreaction."

But Los Angeles law enforcement and city leaders defended the decision to shut down the school system. Police Chief Charlie Beck and Mayor Eric Garcetti told reporters that they stand behind the superintendent's order to close schools for the day.

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