Illinois Education Association Calls on School Districts and Legislators to Take Immediate Action to Address Rising Violence in Schools
In wake of Michigan school shooting, IEA pushes for safe schools for all
SPRING FIELD — Illinois Education Association (IEA) President Kathi Griffin calls on school districts that fail to comply with Illinois’ safe schools laws to comply immediately. Griffin made the announcement during a press conference earlier today. Griffin also announced that Rep. Fred Crespo (Hoffman Estates-D) and Rep. Tony McCombie (Savanna-R) are working with the IEA on legislation to identify school districts that are not compliant with Illinois laws. .
“What happened in Michigan two weeks ago is a tragedy. Every incident where someone in a school is injured in the hand of another is heartbreaking,” Griffin said. “Violence is on the rise in our schools across the state. Our educators shouldn’t have to constantly worry about their safety and the safety of their students. It’s not their problem to solve. They’re stressed enough already. School administrators need to take immediate action to keep our students, staff and communities safe.”
In 2019, the Illinois Education Association initiated, and the state legislature passed, the School Threat Assessment Bill, House Bill 1561 (HB 1561).
The law does several things:
- Asks schools to establish a threat assessment team and a threat assessment protocol.
- Expands the use of the 1-cent county sales tax to include school safety improvements, school resource officers, or mental health professionals, or allow a district to issue bonds, borrow money or find other ways to pay for similar needs.
- Requires school districts to implement a threat assessment process that can be part of a school board’s policy on targeted school violence and prevention, which must include the establishment of an assessment team threats made up of specific people.
- Directs each district to review each school building’s emergency and crisis response plans, protocols, and procedures, as well as its team composition.
- Requires that each district’s assessment team include mental health professionals as well as representatives from state, county and local law enforcement agencies.
The IEA is now partnering with Crespo and McCombie to sponsor new legislation that will ensure school districts comply with the School Threat Assessment Act requirements.
“Keeping schools safe, free from violence, ensuring students have a welcoming and inclusive learning environment is paramount to having a strong school community. A strong school community leads to a strong community, overall. This legislation was intended to bring a similar assessment plan to districts across the state — regardless of size — and it leads to a better Illinois,” Crespo said.
“Ideally, in a situation like the one that happened in Michigan, the threat assessment team would have been called in and stepped in to get the student they needed before tragedy struck. That’s intent of these laws,” McCombie said. “Our state’s children are our most important asset. We must ensure that threat assessment plans are not only created, but also followed to ensure the safety of our students.”
Griffin also sent a reminder to school districts advising them that they can use the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to hire more staff to address mental health issues students may be facing. .
“We have to make sure we’re doing everything we can from a safety perspective, but we also have to make sure we’re dealing with the trauma that our students are going through,” Griffin said. “The pandemic is causing additional trauma for many families in Illinois. We need to recognize this and do what we can to help.
You can download a recording of today’s press conference here.
With 135,000 members, the Illinois Education Association (IEA) is the largest union in Illinois. The IEA represents PreK-12 teachers outside the City of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty and support staff, retired education employees, and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.