State Leaders Discuss School Safety

Jan 23, 2013

Gov. Pat Quinn this week met with police, school and public health officials in what was billed as a summit on school safety. Quinn says December's school shooting in Newtown, Conn., was an "alarm bell." But he says there's not necessarily a statewide answer to the threat.

IDPH Director LaMar Hasbrouck
Credit Illinois Department of Public Health

"Well we have 870 school districts in Illinois, public school districts. And folks are in different parts of Illinois — they're not all in a city, or a suburb, or a smaller town — so there are different approaches in different schools." - Gov. Pat Quinn

Dr. LaMar Hasbrouck is director of the Illinois Department of Public Health.He says tragedies like the shooting in Newtown, Conn., help illuminate a broader problem. 

"Even if you look at all the mass murders at school campuses over the last 10-20 years, it's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of all the violence that's happening day-to-day in schools." -LaMar Hasbrouck

Hasbrouck says people who carry out major acts of violence at school might themselves have been victims of smaller acts, like bullying. 

One of the big ideas from the meeting seems to be that schools should look to what other districts are doing and copy the best practices.

Quinn has already pushed for a ban on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. He says he might have ideas for more new legislation — but won't reveal them until his State of the State address next month.

The meeting included police, architects, school administrators, teachers' unions, and mental health providers.

Not invited was the National Rifle Association, which after Newtown proposed an armed guard for every school in America.

The NRA would be crucial to passing any new gun laws in Springfield — but Quinn says this was a meeting for people in education and law enforcement.

Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey contributed to this report