Los Angeles schools closed after attack threat

Andy Uhler Dec 15, 2015

Tamir Halaban was hanging out at his house in Silverlake — a neighborhood just east of downtown LA — at 10:00am on a Tuesday morning. This wasn’t a normal Tuesday. His son, Toby, was playing a computer game with one of his classmates who was also out of school for the day. Halaban, an executive recruiter for the biotech industry, said he goes into the office every day, but today had to take calls at home.

“Yeah…I got a phone call first to the land line, which I never even answer,” he said. He and Toby were treating it like a snow day. “Today, it’s kind of a new thing, it’s fun,” he said. “We got croissants this morning in solidarity with Paris. Obviously, if it happens again tomorrow it’s going to quickly become a problem.”

Down the road in the Echo Park neighborhood, a pair of women were chatting across their chain-link fences in their front yards.

“I had to work. But I had to stay home today to take care of them,” one woman said in Spanish. “It’s alters your day because everything is normal, right? But the only difference is that I had to stay here.”

Businesses aren’t immune, either. At a downtown café called Springtime in New York, manager Brenda Ochoa said she’s hardly ever seen it this dead.

“Usually we’re pretty busy from about 8:30am to 10:30am,” she said. “We’ve been completely dead today. And I see no people walking by in the streets, either, so that’s a little bit odd, too.”

At The Pie Hole, a dessert shop in downtown, manager Sean Brennan said a number of his employees were personally affected, and so was the business.

“Everybody stays home, nobody goes out spending money,” he said. “It’s really hard to protect ourselves against.”

Then there are the teachers. Instead of spending her day in the classroom, Jesse Deshayes was on her laptop adjusting lesson plans because of the lost day. She said it was frustrating because she teaches at a charter school, and many of her students can’t afford to miss a day learning.

“You know, we work in a lower-income area and our students are already … you know we’re trying to make up some gaps for them and help them out in the first place,” she said. “So having this on top of it, a day out of the classroom, is really tough.”

Los Angeles Unified School District representatives said they’re going to investigate all 900 campuses. That means they’ll need extra personnel and equipment — like search dogs — to get it done. Tamir Halaban says safety’s first, but he’s a little frustrated.

“If you interview me tomorrow, I’ll be very angry if we’re still home,” he said.

Halaban’s not alone. Law enforcement and school officials say they’re just hoping everything will be back to normal in the morning.

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