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dir="ltr">Legislation close to being sent to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk would put a perpetrator who makes a threat of violence against a school on the hook for the cost of any emergency response.
The Senate passed changes to House Bill 1579 on Friday. If Pritzker signs the bill as is, it would mean that anyone who makes a threat of a bomb, shooting or other threat against a school would have to pay the cost of the response up to $10,000.
State Sen. Bill Cunningham, D-Chicago, told the Senate that existing law is too narrow in what it deems a threat.
“The current law is mostly set up to deal with situations when someone calls in a threat to 911 or makes a specific threat involving a bomb,” he said. “Today, most threats that are made against schools are not made that way. They’re often made over social media and often include references to shootings.”
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Specifically, the bill states that anyone convicted of disorderly conduct charge in connection to the school threat would have to “reimburse the unit of government that employs the emergency response officer or officers that were dispatched to the school for the cost of the response,” which would top out at $10,000.
Ben Schwarm, executive director of the Illinois Association of School Boards, said the measure was just another piece of the puzzle to make students safer. It also protects taxpayers.
"Having that required reimbursement if you made a threat to the school seemed like a really good disincentive," he said.
The guilty party would not have to reimburse taxpayers if a judge deems them indigent.
The legislation would also require a minor who makes a threat to get mental help.
The bill needs one more vote in the House before it’s sent to the governor’s desk.