Stopping school threats

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA)– Lawmakers and educators are doing more to keep your kids safe at school. A new law is making sure the right people are in place so no one gets hurt.

Educators and lawmakers are not only taking a stance against school shootings, they are working to take make sure these threats never become an issue. They are creating teams to stop the threats in every district.

“The threat assessment team is designed to focus in on potential threats to come up with an assessment of the actual intent, what is the likelihood that there is danger involved and come up with a plan,”said Sean Denney, an Illinois Education Association lobbyist.

The law also allows the one cent sales tax to go towards making school buildings safer or adding safety personnel like mental health counselors or school resource officers.

“A wealthier district is not going to have a hard time getting the social workers and the school counselors they need in order to have the threat assessment team in place with as many people on it it as possible. In other districts, in rural districts that is going to be a burden,” said Denney.

For smaller districts, like Riverton who have handled threats in the past, this team is a bonus but they look forward to making the buildings themselves safer.

“We made it known to the community and the county that the sales tax was going to be used for improving our facilities so one thing we have done this year and it is continuing is to improve our safety and security of the buildings, really. Surveillance access control and communication in the elementary middle and high schools,” said Brad Polanin, Riverton Community School District superintendent.

“Obviously, we are schools. We want kids to learn, we want kids to grow and experience life and opportunity but our number one job is to make sure they are safe when they are with us.”

The law is already in effect. Lawmakers said districts should be coming up with a threat assessment team if they don’t already have one.

Jacksonville School District 117 is currently handling a school threat. District 117 superintendent Steve Ptacek said a student took a photo with BB gun at Washington Elementary on Labor Day. He said he was made aware of the threat after receiving social media screenshots. The Jacksonville Police Department is currently investigating.

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