Ladies and Gentlemen, I appreciate you coming down for this press conference on short notice. Before I take questions, I have a statement.
I, like many of you, have read the Chicago Tribune's reporting about the use and misuse of isolation in education for addressing behavior and other issues with children, particularly children with special needs. I, like many of you, was deeply and profoundly disturbed why what I read profoundly disturbed.
That is why this morning, I instructed the Illinois Board of Education to immediately communicate with all schools under their jurisdiction that this practice has to stop immediately. Like today. Period. Any entity under their authority that fails to implement this immediately will be subject to the full sanctions available to the State of Illinois, not limited to the suspension on professional licenses and arrest by the state police. I am serious about this as I have ever been about anything in my life. I will use the full powers available to me as governor to make this happen.
Along with recent and long-standing issues with DCFS and other entities with responsibilities for the children of this state have now made it abundantly clear to me we have failed our most vulnerable citizens. That the state of Illinois has been unable or unwilling to meet our most significant responsibility as a government, that is, to protect children. This is going to end now!
I have also contacted the head of IDOT along with other state agencies, have been instructed to stop work on all capital projects that are not currently 'moving dirt'. If we can not take care of our children, we do not deserve to have new roads and new buildings. I fully understand that the funds involved in these projects are different than the funds we are going to have to spend to address the issues facing the state.
However, I want the state legislature to have a laser focus when I call them into special session later this week to start to address these issues. There will be no ribbon-cutting on projects before we have begun to significantly address these issues. Establishing yet another committee or blue-ribbon panel or any such nonsense is not going to be considered progress anymore.
How we got here is a question for another day, but we need to focus right now on fixing these issues not on assigning blame. That time will come but now is not that time.
Additional actions I have taken this morning:
I have requested the Attorney General impanel a state-wide grand jury to investigate the use of isolation and other related issues when to children in this state.
I have directed the state board of education to
Begin an immediate review of all records of students isolated in the last 5 years and direct schools to submit this information as quickly as possible.
Review all situations where schools submit records and reports that are not reviewed by the state.
Finally, I want to make clear the following: if these actions result in me being a one-term governor, I am okay with that. I will accept no delay by any entity, and I will use the full resources at my disposal to make real change happen.