Elgin High School teacher speaks out 4 years after student attacks her

August 27, 2012 2:54:12 PM PDT
Gov. Pat Quinn has signed legislation changing the way police communicate with school officials more than four years after an attack by a student on a suburban teacher.

Elgin High School teacher Carolyn Gilbert lost an eye and suffered other serious injuries when a 16-year-old student stabbed her in her classroom. She spoke publicly for the first time about it to Daily Herald reporter Kerry Lester on the eve of Gov. Quinn signing the bill that might have prevented the attack.

"I just couldn't believe a student would do that," she said.

Gilbert had no reason to fear her student Angel Facio when he came into her classroom after school. But in moments he covered her head with a jacket and began to stab her. A nearby teacher heard her screams ran into the room and likely saved her life.

It wasn't until later school district officials learned Elgin police had been investigating an allegation of aggravated sexual assault against Facio for months.

"He was an A-B student," said John Heiderscheidt, District U-46 security. "He was involved in after-school activities. He was never involved in discipline."

Gov. Pat Quinn said the new law he signed at the school Monday in honor of Gilbert could have possibly prevented the attack on her. He says the law will likely help school districts prevent similar attacks in the future by improving communication between law enforcement and school districts.

"When law enforcement has information, that can be very helpful to the school in protecting the students and the teachers," said Quinn. "We now have a much more expedited way for law enforcement to provide that information."

"It may not have happened if there would have been that communication because he had those other issues, problems with the law. And if we had known about that I would have never, ever been in the room alone with him," said Gilbert.

Facio was convicted of the assault on Gilbert as a juvenile, but was also tried and convicted as an adult for the aggravated sexual assault. He is serving a long prison sentence. Gilbert recovered enough from her injuries to return to teaching eight months after the attack. But it's still difficult.

"I haven't forgiven him. Maybe down the road but it's only been four years. I just haven't forgiven him," she said.

The new law allows law enforcement to share information about investigations of students when they believe there is an imminent threat of harm to other students or school employees. Before the law they could usually only be able to share this information after a student was convicted of a crime.


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