Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn signed new legislation this weekend, requiring all private schools to conduct the same emergency drills as public schools are required to do for potential shooting situations.
The law, effective immediately, requires the state's approximate 1,800 private schools to do an annual review of their crisis plans.
"Nothing is more important than keeping our classrooms safe," Quinn said. "Preparation and knowledge are part of that curriculum – preparing for emergencies we hope will never occur, and knowing what to do if confronted with a crisis."
Sister Mary Paul McCaughey, superintendent of Chicago Catholic schools, said the law doesn't change much for private and parochial schools who already conduct monthly fire drills, seasonal tornado drills and annual shooting drills in order to meet state mandates. Some municipalities, however, might have to cooperate more with private schools without charging an extra fee, she said.
It also encourages local law enforcement to notify private schools as well as public school districts when there is danger in the surrounding neighborhood.
"It puts schools on the safety radar," she said, adding that it's not meant to be alarmist, but "intentional."
Months after the deadly school shooting in Newtown, Conn. in December 2012, Quinn signed a bill requiring public schools to hold safety drills with local law enforcement to make sure they are prepared in the event of a shooting incident.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun