About 150 Chicago schools had no emergency management plans as recently as last month, reports the Chicago Tribune. The lapse helped earn the school district a failing grade from a group examining whether the nation’s 20 largest school systems are prepared to handle a terrorist attack. The report from the America Prepared Campaign, came as a crisis played out in a Russian school seized by rebels armed with suicide-bomb belts. The report praised large districts such as Los Angeles, Houston, Memphis and Prince George’s County, Md., for tackling the terrorist threat. The districts that rated “good” or “best” developed school-specific crisis plans that include floor plans and specific strategies for different threats, stockpiled water and supplies in buildings, and ways to communicate emergency plans to parents.
Chicago and Detroit were singled out for sharp criticism. The report contended that the two districts had “abdicated [their] responsibility” by doing little to even address the issue of terrorism. The report is based on interviews of officials, a survey of parents, and a review of districts’ emergency management plans. “Frankly, I was surprised that so many districts had done so much since 9/11, Chicago being one of the exceptions,” said Steven Brill, author of “After: How America Confronted the September 12 Era” and chairman of America Prepared.