February 2013 A newly-proposed Senate Bill (SB 1307) would lower Illinois' current compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5.
January 2013 WCT is proud to announce that Jennifer L. Hansen is now a partner in the firm.
December 2012 A new House Bill (HB 76) introduced would create the "School Choice Act," in Illinois, allowing for publically funded vouchers to be used for tuition at non-public schools.
November 2012 The Illinois Supreme Court ruled in Carr v. Koch (2012 IL 113414) that two Illinois tax payers did not meet the criteria for establishing "standing" to bring a lawsuit against Christopher Koch, Illinois' State Superintendent of Education, for establishing an education funding system that violated the equal-protection cause.
October 2012 A new Illinois Public Act (PA-1037) created the Eradicate Domestic Violence Task Force, which is ushered to develop a statewide course for high school students to prevent interpersonal, adolescent violence and is based on the Step Back Think Program. The Task Force will at least 20 representatives, including members from a statewide teaching organization, a school principal, a school board member, a Department of Human Services employee, a law enforcement official, a domestic violence organization employee, and school business officials.
September 2012 The 7th Circuit Appellate Court affirmed a District Court's decision to dismiss a liability case against a school district filed by the parent of an 8-year-old boy who was involved in an inappropriate relationship with his female teacher. In N.R. Doe v. St. Francis School District, #12-1039, the appellate court found that the district staff, including the principal and the superintendent, "acted promptly" after receiving notice of the allegations against the teacher, which included sexual text messaging, invitations to her apartment, and sexual contact (kissing and petting). The district was ultimately not liable for "negligent infliction of emotional distress," after the superintendent "did everything she could do given the information available."
August 2012 A recent Illinois Appellate court decision, In re: Marquita M., Case No. 4-11-0011, rules that schools can question and elicit formal statements and/or confessions from students regarding alleged crimes without first reading their Miranda Rights to them. The judge indicated that since the child was not in custody (being physically restrained, subjected to a long line of questioning, intimidated by the police liaison officer or taken to the police station) at the time of the statements were made, Miranda Rights were not required.
July 2012 The Illinois Appellate Court dismissed a lawsuit, C.E. and C.L. v BOE East St. Louis No. 189, Case No. 5-11-0390, in which the parents of parochially-placed students were suing their local school district in order to secure busing transportation on days when the public schools were not in attendance.
June 2012 A new case out of the Utah Supreme Court found that school officials could not claim government immunity when defending themselves in a case where a student was accidentally shot and killed during a musical production at the school. Staff members allowed a real gun (loaded with blanks) to be used in the play, with the stipulation that only adults could handle the weapon. Despite this rule, students who were unsupervised handled the gun, and a blank was fired near a student's head resulting in his death. The Utah case has no precedence in Illinois, however Utah's immunity statute is similar to Illinois' in language, and as such might be utilized in future Illinois litigation.
May 2012 A newly-proposed Illinois House Joint Resolution (HJR 79) would create the Area Career and Technical Education and Vocational Centers Task Force, in an effort to study whether the state should fund area career/vocational centers and career and technical education programs.
April 2012 The U.S. Department of Education has announced that the President's budget proposal for FY 2013 will include a plan to freeze funding for special education. In FY 2012, the Federal government only covered 16.3% of the national average per pupil expenditure, far less than the 40% funding promise made to states through the IDEA.
March 2012 Two new Federal bills, the Student Success Act (HR 3989) and the Encouraging Innovation and Effective Teachers Act (HR 3990) recently have been introduced to the House of Representatives, which would revise the No Child Left Behind Act, allowing more flexibility for states to design, develop and implement their own educational strategies for improving education in the public schools. The Acts would also eliminate the Annual Yearly Progress ("AYP") requirement, as well as the "highly qualified teacher" definition, allowing states to develop their own teacher evaluation system. In addition, it would allow individual states to determine which schools were "failing" and how they should be remediated.
February 2012 The ISBE recently amended its rules and regulations regarding the Illinois School Students Records Act. The revisions include additional definitions of what comprises a student's record, adding in "accident reports," video or electronic records maintained by law enforcement professionals working in the school, electronic recordings from school buses, and video/electronic recordings related to "special education placement hearings and appeals."
January 2012 WCT associate attorney, Shermin S. Ali-Andani, has been appointed by Governor Pat Quinn to serve on the Illinois Muslim American Advisory Council's ("MAAC") Policy and Legislative Affairs Committee. The group will provide strategic direction to better integrate Muslim Americans in State policies and programs in areas including education, public safety, jobs, veteran's affairs, healthcare, and human services. For more information about the MAAC, please visit its website at http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/MAAC/Pages/default.aspx.
December 2011 The ISBE issued formal guidance regarding the Performance Evaluation Reform Act and Senate Bill 7, the recently created Public Acts bills which revise the way performance evaluations of all teachers and principals in Illinois are conducted. The Act created the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, comprised of teachers, principals, superintendents and "other interested stakeholders" to advise ISBE on the development and implementation of improved performance evaluation systems and supports. Final regulations for the Reform Act are currently awaiting public comment, however ISBE has developed the before-mentioned non-regulatory guidance regarding implementation of the Act until formal regulations are passed into law.
November 2011 A recent HB 605 was approved by the Senate and sent to the Governor for signature, making changes to the reporting requirements for school district report cards. The new bill requires districts to provide additional information, including curriculum and specific special education program information, student outcomes and progress and attendance information for students, teachers and administrators.
October 2011 The Department of Children and Family Services adopted emergency amendments to its regulations regarding the administration of psychotropic medications for children under its custody (89 Ill. Admin. Code 325). The new regulations: 1) Requires DCFS and private agency caseworkers and investigators to identify potential medical and mental health issues, 2) Requires DCFS to publish its psychotropic medication administration guidelines adn list of medications on its website, and 3) Designates an Oversight Treatment Team to review decisions to administer psychotropic medications.
September 2011 A new revision to Illinois' FOIA law (PA 97-0579) defines a "recurrent requester" as a person who, in the 12 months immediately preceding the request, has submitted to the same public body (i) a minimum of 50 requests for records, (ii) a minimum of 15 requests for records within a 30-day period, or (iii) a minimum of seven requests for records within a seven-day period.
August 2011 A new Illinois law (PA 97-0504, effective January 1, 2012) requires training for school board members and other elected officials on the Open Meetings Act.
Public Act 97-0294 was also passed, amending the Stalking No Contact Order to provide that school districts can be court ordered to make a change of educational placement or program for the respondent.
July 2011 The 9th Circuit rules in favor of the school district in Forest Grove v. T.A., denying the family of a child with EDs reimbursement for their child's placement at a therapeutic residential facility, because the parents stated on the student's application to the private school that his enrollment at the RTC was "based on his behavioral and drug problems," and not solely for educational purposes.
June 2011 Governor Quinn signed into law education reform bill SB 7. (See April 2011 entry below for more detailed information.)
May 2011 The Senate approved the Fiscal Year 2012 Illinois education budgets, restoring several million dollars worth of programming (including mentoring, RtI and early intervention programming) which had been slashed by the House of Representatives. In addition, the House Personnel and Pensions Committee approved SB 512, a bill overhauling the state's current pension systems, including the Teachers' Retirement System.
The U.S. Department of Education announced that it plans to offer school districts federal guidance regarding restrain and seclusion prior to the beginning of the 2011-2012 school year.
April 2011 The Illinois Senate unanimously approved SB 630/7, an education reform bill that impacts teacher tenure, hiring and layoffs, as well as strike procedures and school board training. For detailed information, please see www.iasb.com/govrel/sb7analysis.pdf for more details regarding the bill.
March 2011 A new Northern District of Illinois federal court opinion, Dominique L. v BOE of the City of Chicago, held that parents may sue a school district under Section 1983 to compel the district's compliance with an administrative due process decision.
February 2011 Currently pending HB 189 would place limitations on the percentage of students within general education classrooms who have IEPs (excluding those students only receiving speech-language services).
January 2011 A pending house bill, HB 140, would require the ISBE to establish a standardized student expulsion policy that would apply to all school districts within the state.
December 2010 The Illinois General Assembly considered a number of controversial education reform measures, including the ISBE's ability to revoke a teacher or principal's certificate if they received three unsatisfactory performance evaluations during a 10-year period, requiring a "standard survey" of teachers and students in order to assess the learning conditions of individual schools, and allowing for teachers to be dismissed (RIF) or recalled based on performance, not seniority.
November 2010 New Illinois regulations go into effect which impact homebound services for special education students in Illinois. See highlighted client alert for more details.
October 2010 18 school districts within Illinois will be sharing $270 million in state capital funding for construction and renovation projects as part of Gov. Quinn's Illinois Jobs Now! program. The funding will help pay for additions and/or renovations to existing schools (including those damaged by natural disasters), as well as the construction of new buildings. To see whether your district will be receiving any of this money, go to the Illinois Government News Network.
September 2010 Illinois received a $146.6 million grant from the federal School Improvement Grants program to help turn around its persistently lowest achieving schools. School districts throughout Illinois will compete for their share of the funds and will qualify if they have any Tier III schools (schools performing in the lowest 20% in the state) within their boundaries. For more information, go to the U.S. Department of Education.
August 2010 WCT partner Brooke R. Whitted was appointed to the newly-created Illinois School Bullying Prevention Task Force. The Task Force was created by PA 96-0952 to explore the causes and consequences of bullying in schools, identify practices which reduce incidents of bullying, highlight training and technical assistance to school districts to effectively address bullying, and to evaluate the effectiveness of schools' current anti-bullying policies.
July 2010 A bill was signed into law (PA 96-1264) that provides for reimbursement to school districts for transporting children enrolled in its early childhood programs.
June 2010 The Illinois State Board of Education released its Guidelines for Managing Life-threatening Food Allergies in Illinois Schools, from which school boards are required to implement policies beginning January 1, 2011.
May 2010 A new House Bill, HB 6079, would allow two contiguous school districts to establish cooperative elementary and high schools.
April 2010 A newly proposed House Bill, HB 5234, would apply sexual harassment provisions from the Illinois Human Rights Act to elementary and secondary schools. If passed, the bill would require school district administrators to take appropriate disciplinary action against elementary and middle school employees engaging in sexual harassment.
March 2010 A new bill, HB 4886, was sent to the House for consideration, providing that a district could implement an alternative school calendar, instituting a 4-day school week. The proposed calendar would require approval by the Illinois State Board of Education and the local regional superintendent of school.
February 2010 A new House Bill, HB 4672, is introduced requiring school principals to attend in-service workshops regarding the warning signs of suicidal behaviors in teenagers and suicide prevention.
January 2010 Illinois' new FOIA law goes into effect, requiring school boards to designate one or more officials/employees to act as formal Freedom of Information Officers. Other changes to the law include shortening the response time from 7 business days to 5 business days, prohibiting public bodies from charging the requestor for the first 50 pages, requiring a detailed factual basis for the denial of any request, removing the exemption of personnel records and personal employee information from the act, and imposing mandatory attorneys fees and fines to any public body which the court determines willfully and intentionally failed to comply with a FOIA.
December 2009 Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the creation of a National Board of Certification for Principals, a new credentialing program focused on the advanced development of school leaders which will set national, rigorous standards and assessments for school principals. The U.S. Department of Education will provide $1 million in funding for the initiative, along with other agencies including the Chicago Public Education Fund.
November 2009 The Illinois Association of School Boards announced during its annual conference that it intends to introduce legislation in Illinois forbidding public school employees from striking. The board proposes, instead, using alternatives to striking, including mediation and binding arbitration.
October 2009 Two recent new Public Acts (96-434 and PA 96-266) requires school districts to disclose detailed information regarding salaries and other compensation for all employees of a school district, including administrators. The information, which must be presented publicly at a regularly scheduled school board meeting and accessible via the district's website, must include information related to base salary, pension contributions, retirement increases, costs of health and life insurance, paid sick and vacation days, annuities and any other form of paid compensation paid to school personnel. It will also include information related to all collective bargaining agreements entered into with the district.
September 2009 A new Public Act , 96-0657, provides that a parent, independent educational evaluator, or other qualified, professional retained by the parent or child must be afforded reasonable access to the school and school personnel in order to evaluate the child and review the child's current and/or proposed educational program, placement or services.
August 2009 Public Act 96-0542 is signed by Governor Pat Quinn, effective January 1, 2010, which makes comprehensive changes to the FOIA law (see entry for May of 2009 for more information).
July 2009 A search for over-the-counter drugs in a student's undergarments was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in an 8-1 decision in Safford Unified School District No. 1 v Redding. The Court stated that after searching the student's book bag and pockets and finding nothing there was no reasonable suspicion that the drugs would be found in the student's underwear making the search unconstitutional. The Court held that the search was excessively intrusive in light of the age (the child was 11) and sex of the student and the nature of the infraction. The case was sent back to the appellate court to decide if the school district could be liable for the violation.
June 2009 The U.S. Supreme Court, in its ruling in Forest Grove v T.A., maintained its previous position that disabled children, even if they had never before attended school within the public sector, continue to retain the right to retroactive reimbursement for private school placements due to their intensive special education needs.
May 2009 Discussions continue regarding pending Senate Bill 189, in which Attorney General Lisa Madigan has proposed legislation to tighten the current language of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) language. Some major proposed changes to the current FOIA law include: requirement for all settlement agreements entered into by public bodies to be considered public record, changing the compliance deadline from 7 to 5 business days, a requirement that each public body designate an employee as a "Freedom of Information Officer,"and includes proper disclosure of arrest reports and criminal history records for employees of public bodies.
April 2009 The Illinois State Board of Education finally issued guidance regarding two new public acts, PA 95-0844 and PA 95-0938, which affect the residency statutes in Illinois. Please see our memo, Implementation of PA 95-0844 and PA 95-0938, for details.
March 2009 The Illinois Association for the Regional Superintendent of Schools published its newly updated ROE Minimum Certification Requirements for School Personnel.
February 2009 The Illinois State Board has issued a guidance document regarding class sizes for the 2009 - 2010 school year.
January 2009 The U.S. Department of Education issued the final regulations for the IDEA, effective January 1, 2009. These final regulations allow parents of students with disabilities to revoke consent for all special education services, and do not allow school districts to challenge the parents' withdrawal of consent using due process procedures. Please see our memo, Final Withdrawal of Consent Regulations Issued by US Department of Education, for more details.
December 2008 The Illinois State Board of Education has ordered a 7% cut across the board in the budget for 2009, and is allowing school districts more leeway on how to use the funds they receive from the state for special education. See our Nonpublic Facilities Funding Alert for more information.
November 2008 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit ruled in Cumberland Regional High School District v Freehold Regional High School District that two New Jersey School Districts must share the cost of educating a disabled student whose parents share physical and legal custody of the student, but reside in different school districts.
October 2008 The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was passed as part of the financial bailout package on October 3, 2008. Please see our alert for detailed information regarding the significance of this new Public Act.
September 2008 A special legislative session was called in Illinois this month in order "to consider measures aimed at increasing school funding, improving the school funding structure and eliminating any current inequities." As a result, the legislature has scheduled five public hearing dates to "give tax payers, education professionals, business and labor organizations, and civic groups a chance to have their say" regarding education funding reform. The hearings are scheduled for:
August 2008 HB 4252 was signed into law, requiring school district superintendents to disclose information about employees who were reported to DCFS regarding cases of an alleged abuse or neglected child to potential employers.
July 2008 Illinois was named one of five states in the country to implement a new pilot program related to the No Child Left Behind Act which would allow school district's more flexibility in implementing the law. Under the current law, school populations are broken into groups based on race, ethnicity, language and special learning needs. If one of those groups failed to meet state and federal standards, then the whole school would face sanctions. Under the new pilot program, sanctions would be limited to the specific population which failed, allowing for schools to overhaul specific programs, instead of their entire curriculum. More information regarding this pilot program can be found at http://www.isbe.state.il.us/news/2008/july1.htm.
June 2008 The Illinois State Board of Education approved the special education procedures developed by the Illinois Council of School Attorneys. A copy of the model procedures can be found here on the Illinois Association of School Board's website.
May 2008 A new Illinois law, SB 1865, was introduced to the Illinois legislature which would allow for an increased penalty (from $20,000 to $30,000) against parents who performed "willful or malicious acts [against a] minor which cause injury to a person or property" in accordance with the Parental Responsibility Law, and would allow school districts to recover attorney fees as damages in these cases.
April 2008 The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued its decision in the Nuxoll v Indian Prairie School District 204 case, ordering that Indian Prairie School District 204 be compelled to allow a high school student to wear a t-shirt in school which read "Be Happy, Not Gay."
March 2008 The U.S. Department of Education announced a new NCLB pilot program, the Differentiated Accountability Pilot Program , which is aimed at helping states differentiate between underperforming schools which need "dramatic interventions," as opposed to schools which are closer to meeting the NCLB goals.
February 2008 The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and the Illinois State Board of Education that alleged the No Child Left Behind Act ("NCLB") and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act ("IDEA") are legally incompatible. The decision, Board of Education of Ottawa Township High School District 140 v U.S. Department of Education (07-2008) comes after two Illinois school districts and several special education students and their parents filed the suit, asking for the court to invalidate the NCLB requirements for changes in a child's IEP without regard to the students' individualized needs.
Also, a new law, HB 5578, is introduced to the Illinois legislature which would require parties seeking public school employees to testify during school hours to obtain a court order for testimony. In addition, it would require the party to pay a witness and mileage fee to the witness, as well as a fee to the school district to reimburse it for costs associated with providing a substitute teacher or other substitute staff member in the employee's absence.
January 2008 The Illinois High School Association's Board of Directors voted 10-0 to begin mandatory, random drug testing for all student athletes, including for steroids. Testing is to begin with the 2008-2009 school year. This is the first time the IHSA has mandated statewide testing, and Illinois will now become the fourth state in the country to test for steroids.
December 2007 The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a fact sheet on the application of federal anti-discrimination laws, which provides "best practices" recommendations regarding the use of employment tests and screening devices.
November 2007 ISBE announced that, beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, it will no longer be administering the Illinois Measure of Annual Growth in English (IMAGE) testing to limited English proficiency students. Instead, the students will begin receiving the Illinois Standards Achievement Test (ISAT) and the Prairie State Achievement Examination (PSAE) with accommodations, pending the creation of a new appropriate standardized test acceptable to the U.S. Department of Education.
October 2007 New rules (23 Ill Admin Code 401) are adopted regarding Illinois approved non-public special education programs, allowing these facilities to administer the state assessment tests, including the ISAT, PSAE and IAA. The rules also discuss class size, prohibit the use of pain as a method of discipline, require staff records to include criminal background checks, require the school to reflect students' progress toward IEP goals to ISBE, and distinguish requirements for summer school.
Sept. 2007 An amendment to the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act (325 ILCS 5/4) was created adding public school board members and the governing body of private schools as mandated reporters.
August 2007 Illinois' first anti-bullying law (105 ILCS 5/27-23.7) was passed this month, which mandates all public school districts by the end of February 2008 to draft a written policy on bullying, and to communicate this bullying policy to parents and students on an annual basis.
July 2007 New Illinois special education regulations are finalized. A memo summarizing the changes can be found here: 2007 Illinois spec ed regulations revision .