Turning teacher’s tragedy into safer school environs
by Linda McDaniel-Hale Point Taken June 1, 2012 3:20PM
Updated: July 6, 2012 10:30AM
When teacher Carolyn Gilbert was attacked by Angel Facio at Elgin High School on Jan. 18, 2008, her world as she knew it came to a shocking halt. She was stabbed at least seven times in the back of her head and neck. She was also stabbed in her right eye.
Doctors at Sherman Hospital in Elgin tried to save her eye, and she was later transferred to the University of Illinois Medical Center’s Ear and Eye Infirmary — where, unfortunately, the damage proved too much to repair. Not only did she lose her right eye, but the emotional toll started with being unable to look at knives and having trouble falling asleep.
Now thanks to state Rep. Carol Sente of Vernon Hills, a plan has been drafted to help prevent violence in Illinois schools. The purpose of this plan — proposed because of the attack on Gilbert — is to permit police to share information with specific school officials if they think that a student has used uncontrolled, strong force while not in attendance at school and could engage in this behavior with other students and teachers at school.
This is not the only incident that has turned a tragedy into something of benefit to others. When Adam Walsh was kidnapped and murdered in 1981, his father, John Walsh, dedicated his life to help others who were victims of senseless crimes. Not only did he start “America’s Most Wanted,” but he also worked for the opening of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Although no one would want to minimize what happened to Gilbert, this truly is an example of something negative happening and being turned into good for others. If the information that police will share with specific school officials can result even in one less student or teacher being attacked, then it should be implemented by our State Legislature.
Although not everyone in Springfield is on board with this plan, it definitely needs to end up signed on Gov. Pat Quinn’s desk. Those opposed to this legislation feel that it would be a violation of a student’s right to privacy. Yet what about the other students’ and teachers’ right to being safe at school?
Just one incident at Elgin High School has amounted to a significant piece of legislation that could benefit so many others in the entire state. A tragedy for Carolyn Gilbert could soon be turned into an opportunity for others to attend school in a safer environment. Thanks, Rep. Carol Sente, for taking the initiative to make this incident in the Fox Valley a lot less likely to happen elsewhere in the state.
Linda McDaniel-Hale is a Sleepy Hollow resident.