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posted: 1/31/2013 5:30 AM

Area schools not planning drill like Cary-Grove's

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Suburban school officials were well aware of the code red drill Wednesday at Cary-Grove High School, which included gunshots fired from a starter's pistol. But among several districts contacted Wednesday, none plan to expose students to such stimuli, even in the name of safety.

An Elgin Area School District U-46 administrator disagreed with the goal of training students to recognize gunfire, the main reason blank shots were included in the Cary-Grove drill.

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"That's up to their parents, not up to the school," U-46 safety coordinator John Heiderscheidt said. "There's no place for that, in my opinion, with students in schools."

U-46 students participate in three fire drills per year, one lockdown drill, one severe weather drill and a transportation safety drill and several districts offer training drills somewhat similar to the one at Cary-Grove but only for staff members.

Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 officials have been working with local law enforcement to plan that type of drill, but no date has been set. Tom Petersen, director of communications, said the drill would not be for students and the question of whether to include gunfire is still undecided.

"That's going to be a decision up to the law enforcement agencies as well as our people directly responsible for security," Petersen said.

The district has offered similar safety drills on past teacher institute days, though none included any gunshots, Petersen said.

The same is true at Libertyville and Vernon Hills high schools, according to Mary Todoric, District 128 director of communications. In St. Charles District 303 and Glenbard High School District 87, officials said no such safety drills are planned at all.

Illinois schools have been required to perform emergency drills with local law enforcement at least once per year since 2009, according to Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Ann Fergus. The state does not collect details regarding the use of gunfire in lockdown drills, but Fergus said the practice is not common.

• Daily Herald staff writer Elena Ferrarin contributed to this report.

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