MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Public Schools in Miami-Dade and Broward County opened as usual Thursday after receiving a threat that several levels of law enforcement deemed “less than credible.”
“We’re having a regular school day today after we received a non credible threat late last night around 8:30 p.m.,” said Miami-Dade Public Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho.
He said the district has been working with federal, state and local authorities after several board members received threatening emails Wednesday night. They have set up a temporary crisis command center equipped with law enforcement and school officials.
CBS4 News has learned authorities believe the threat originated from Eastern Europe. They said the group is sending the threats to create chaos for their own amusement rather than any political motivation. Though the email does quote the Koran and mentions Allah, the Islamic name for God.
Miami-Dade district officials said the threats were similar to those received earlier this week by districts in Los Angeles and New York threatening violence with guns, bombs and nerve gas. According to the statement, such threats were also made to Broward County Public Schools, Houston Independent School District and those in Dallas, Orange County and Long Beach.
“Sadly, it’s becoming the new normal. Whether we’re talking about San Bernardino or Paris, I think we need to be ready for this type of eventuality,” said Carvalho.
In a statement released by Miami-Dade Schools earlier, officials said, in part, “Notwithstanding this less than credible threat, it is the district’s responsibility to share this information with the community. In an abundance of caution, additional resources have been deployed to schools.”
Despite the reassurance, some parents were on edge about the whole thing.
“I was a little scared but I pray to God my kids will be safe today in school,” said parent Yanira Lara.
“That’s a very big threat. We could possibly be the victims of a terrorist attack and they’re continuing school that’s crazy,” said 10th grader Christi Castillo.
Other parents said they trust the district and our police to keep everyone safe.
“It’s dangerous right now and we don’t know what to expect so we want Dade County Schools to monitor our children and I’m sure Mr. Carvalho will protect us,” said parent Lacharn Wilson.
“I believe they’re on top of it. I believe the schools and everyone else involved in the situation is on top of it,” said another parent.
Police presence has been amped up as a precaution and schools were swept overnight.
“We activated additional security…just to be on the safe side,” said Ian Moffett with Miami-Dade Public Schools Police Department. “We can’t do this alone. We need to rely on the public to let us know if you see something saying something.”
“We ought to be vigilant, we ought to be aware and prepared, but we ought not be afraid. If fear is one of or natural reactions than we have lost,” said Carvalho.
While Miami-Dade sent out an email blast at 12:30 a.m. and kept parents in the loop all morning, Broward sent out a single tweet at 6:30 in the morning.
Broward Schools said since the threat was deemed “not credible” they went on as usual.
“One of the things I don’t want to do in Broward County is to create anxiety, hysteria over hoax that we receive in the county,” said Broward County Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie.
They released a statement on the matter earlier saying, in part, “The Broward District School Police Department established immediate communication with federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and at this juncture, the threat is deemed as less than credible.
We are sharing this information with our community to ensure everyone is aware of this situation. In an abundance of caution, additional resources have been deployed to our schools and throughout our community. Our District will operate on the normal (regular) schedule for Thursday, December 17, 2015. Parents/guardians are encouraged to send their children to their regularly scheduled classes and activities.”
But Broward’s decision to downplay the situation had some parents feeling left out.
“Have the schools been telling you anything about this,” asked CBS4’s Ted Scouten.
“Nothing at all, not a notice, not a phone call, not an email, nothing. I’m going to inquire now,” said parent Fallon Hayes.
Hayes figured it was just a matter of time.
“I know it was going around everything and unfortunately I was waiting for something to happen here because it was a big city, next to Miami and I’m very nervous, very worried,” said Hayes.
Other parents were furious that they didn’t get a heads up.
“Very mad, very mad, very upset. They should have notified us,” said Trina Marsinelli.
But some said as long as the threat is not credible, they believe their children are safe.
“I trust my district and if they saw a big enough issue I think they would have let us know,” said Brittnie Rowan.