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The cost of a bomb threat will shock you

No cost is too high for student safety. That’s a given. If someone calls in a bomb threat to one of your schools, you have a responsibility to investigate and to take every precaution.

But what happens when that threat is exposed as a hoax? Schools from Los Angeles to Maryland to Massachusetts have closed or evacuated in response to online threats in recent months.

In each case, thankfully, no crisis materialized.  But that didn’t preclude school leaders from taking the necessary steps to ensure student safety. Hoax or no, school leaders have a process and a protocol to follow. And, as it turns out, the monetary cost for that protocol is significant. A recent CNBC report pegged the total loss of per-pupil funding following LAUSD’s recent closure at $29 million.

It should be restated: You can’t put a cost on student safety. If school leaders or authorities have what they deem to be a credible threat, they need to do what’s necessary to keep their students and employees safe.

That said a hoax is still frustrating. Just take a look at some of the potential costs reported by CNBC:

  • State penalties for shortened class time
  • State penalties for lower attendance
  • Federal school lunch reimbursement losses
  • Federal attendance reimbursement losses
  • Police building inspection costs
  • Police overtime pay costs
  • Police traffic operation costs

That doesn’t account for the costs that can’t be quantified, such as the worry and inconvenience hoaxes cause parents and teachers, or the loss of valuable classroom time.

In the end, you might question whether any of this really matters. And maybe it doesn’t. Safety is safety after all. But what if you had a system to help you listen to your school community, to keep an eye out for threats and hoaxes alike, and to get a head start on your investigation before making a final decision?

Is your district doing everything it can to identify and vet potential threats to its schools? Tell us in the comments.

Looking for a way to get ahead of threats and invite community feedback? Critical Alerts might be the answer.