RIALTO (CBSLA.com) — Authorities said on Wednesday that death threats against Rialto district school officials — in connection with a school assignment instructing students to debate the veracity of the Holocaust — were made by a man living in Connecticut.
Rialto Unified School District officials first responded last week to reports about the assignment, which asked students to compose a written debate over whether the Holocaust was “merely a political scheme created to influence public emotion and gain.”
According to Captain Randy DeAnda with the Rialto Police Department, a 47-year-old man made the alleged threats — two phone calls — via land lines.
DeAnda told CBS2’s Crystal Cruz that “no arrest had been made,” and that case has been turned over to a district attorney to see if there is enough evidence to file charges.
The suspect is not being named at this time as the investigation is on-going, DeAnda said.
The Connecticut man reportedly read about the controversial essay assignment on social media.
Police told Cruz the unidentified man “threatened to use guns and knives to hurt two school officials.”
An emergency meeting of the school board was held Wednesday evening and Cruz said it was “packed.”
One result of the meeting — it was revealed that 8th grade students and teachers will now take a field trip to the Museum of Tolerance.
Intrigued about history, Adrielli Ferrer, a UC Riverside student, told Cruz she wanted to meet a now 90-year-old Holocaust survivor and learn as much as she could about this period and her survival story.
Ferrer shows a picture of the elderly woman as a young girl — she’s holding a teddy bear.
“By some miracle she survived the Holocaust and by some miracle this bear was returned to her,” said Ferrer.
The college student said when she first leaned about the homework assignment given to the 8th graders in Rialto, she was mortified.
“It’s astounding to me that someone would question such a terrible act of violence,” she said.
Ferrer, parents and leaders of the Jewish community attended the district emergency meeting to address the assignment.
District officials admit the assignment was a mistake and have since pulled it from the curriculum.
“For this to have gone as far as it did is absolutely unconscionable and someone needs to investigate this,” said Tressy Capps, a parent.
Mohammad Islam/Interim Superintendent Rialto School District
“We are doing damage control and we will do more extensive review process to insure that it doesn’t happen again,” said Mohammed Islam, interim Superintendent of the Rialto School District.
The superintendent was one of two officials who were allegedly targeted in the death threats.