SPRINGFIELD — The grade school massacre in Newtown, Conn., has spurred Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn to schedule a statewide summit on school safety.
Educators, law enforcement officials and school management groups from around the state have been invited to the Illinois Emergency Management Agency headquarters on Jan. 22 for a four-hour discussion on how to keep schools safe from violence.
The summit is just one part of the governor’s response to the killing of 20 children and six staff members at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.
Quinn earlier called for a state ban on the kinds of semiautomatic weapon used in the shootings. He also directed the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and other state agencies to review existing programs for student protection and determine whether improvements can be made.
“A critical part of this review is to bring together subject matter experts in the fields of public safety, education, mental health and law enforcement to address the short- and long-term efforts needed to safeguard our schools,” Quinn said in a last week letter inviting various groups to the meeting.
The statewide push comes as individual school districts also are investigating ways to address potential violence.
Officials in Washington, Ill., for example, are discussing a plan to arm three administrators with guns. That idea doesn’t appear to be on the potential list of responses being considered by state school officials.
“We haven’t come out with a recommendation like that,” Illinois State Board of Education spokeswoman Mary Fergus said Monday.
Next week’s summit is not the first time Illinois has attempted to address violence in schools.
Since 2009, schools in Illinois have been required to perform an emergency drill at least once per year. Schools also must have emergency and crisis plans in place and review them annually. One potential new requirement that could be discussed at the summit would be an increase in the number of drills schools must conduct.
In 2012, a school and campus security training program run annually by the state delivered 55 courses to nearly 1,500 participants. Eleven more courses are scheduled through March.