Facio-inspired school violence prevention plan moves to Senate
Carolyn Gilbert laughs onstage at a fashion show put on by Elgin High School students last month.
JOHN STARKS | Staff Photographer
SPRINGFIELD — A proposal targeted at limiting school violence and inspired in part by the 2008 stabbing of Elgin teacher Carolyn Gilbert is half way to Gov. Pat Quinn's desk.
State Rep. Carol Sente, a Vernon Hills Democrat, has so far overcome privacy concerns in her proposal to allow police to share some information about students with school officials to try to avoid violence in the classroom.
"We had an extensive number of meetings with many, many groups," Sente said.
The idea comes from a Daily Herald investigation into gaps in school safety laws. The investigation found that police and school officials weren't always sharing relevant information, even when they had agreements to do so.
Angel Facio of Elgin was unknown to Elgin Area School District U-46 officials, despite two police investigations against him. Facio, 16, stabbed Gilbert at Elgin High.
Sente's legislation would explicitly allow police to give an administrator or teacher notice if authorities thought misbehavior outside of school could be an indicator of future school violence.
Some lawmakers were at first hesitant about Sente's idea, saying students' privacy was a concern. So Sente changed her plan, detailing that the information shared with schools can't be written down or made part of a student's permanent record. The information wouldn't be part of public record, either. And information can only be shared if police think it could develop into a public safety concern.
But police investigation efforts could continue separate from any school action.
With the changes, the proposal was approved by the Illinois House last week by a 91-9 vote and now awaits debate in the Senate.
There, it is sponsored for now by state Sen. John Millner, a Carol Stream Republican, who said Facio's case was a prime example of why the legislation is needed. The 16-year-old, now serving time in prison, was crying for help, Millner said.
"The school didn't even know about it," he said.
The legislation likely wouldn't get its first debate in the Senate until at least the middle of April.
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