New Illinois law aims to head off another ‘horror’ attack like one on Elgin teacher (Sun-Times Media)

by Emily McFarlan Miller

ELGIN — It was a scene witnesses described to The Courier-News at the time as “like out of a horror movie.”

Angel Facio of Elgin, then 16, threw a coat over teacher Carolyn Gilbert’s head as she sat at her Elgin High School desk grading papers, then repeatedly stabbed her with a steak knife until, witnesses said, the blade snapped off.

That’s a scene Gov. Pat Quinn said Monday he hopes will never be repeated in the state with the signing of a bill that will allow police to share juvenile criminal records with school officials when there is an imminent threat to individuals at the school.

Quinn signed House Bill 5602 into law Monday morning at the same school where Gilbert had been attacked in 2008.

“This is an important bill, not only for this school and this school district, but for all the schools in Illinois. We must maintain safety in the school room, in the classroom, so our teachers can do their job and instill knowledge in their students and help their students to achieve their goals,” the governor said.

School District U46 officials and school board member Jennifer Shroder, Elgin Mayor David Kaptain and city council members John Steffen and Tish Powell, Elgin Police Chief Jeff Swoboda and representatives of other area police departments, and State Sen. Michael Noland, D-Elgin, all attended the signing in the high school library.

Most notably, Gilbert and about 30 students from a U.S. history and a civics class stood with the governor as he signed the bill into law.

“I want to say on behalf of everybody in Illinois, we’re very proud of you. You’re a real hero to everyone in our state. Something really bad happened here, and we’re here today to make sure that never happens again. We’re also here to honor the good work of Carolyn Gilbert,” Quinn said.

The consumer sciences teacher broke into a smile as the governor whispered to her after the signing. She declined to speak publicly or to the press.

“This is a civics lesson our students rarely get to witness firsthand and we are honored to have you here at out fine school,” Elgin Principal Jerry Cook said, welcoming the governor to the high school.

“The lawmaking process can be a difficult one. The idea for a bill can be generated by lawmakers, through public advocacy and sometimes as a result of tragedy. Today’s bill signing is the result of a tragedy that occurred here at Elgin High School to one of our very own teachers, Carolyn Gilbert.”

For the rest of the story, read New Illinois law aims to head off another ‘horror’ attack like one on Elgin teacher (Sun-Times Media).

For more information about Quinn’s visit to the Elgin area and the two other bills he signed, read Quinn signs bills, cuts ribbon for Tollway project during visit (Sun-Times Media).

Photo credit: Michael Smart for Sun-Times Media.