WHT Law

Client Alerts

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October 2017

A new Illinois law, PA 100-0532, shortens the time that school districts have to respond to a parent’s request to inspect and copy student records from 15 school days to 10 calendar days.


September 2017

New regulations were submitted to Illinois’ Joint Committee on Administrative Rules (JCAR) to amend the ADA Grievance Procedure as it relates to Illinois community colleges. The new regulations require the installment of an ADA Coordinator at each college, creates a standardized grievance form for individuals, provides deadlines for decision and appeals, and guidance as to the factors that should be taken into consideration on each case-by-case basis regarding the resolution of matters.


August 2017

Illinois Senate Bill 1, the new school funding bill, was passed, creating a new education funding formula for the state. The new formula brings equality to poorer school districts, as well as tax-based incentives for parents who have their children placed in non-public school facilities. For more information on the bill and how it will impact your school district’s funding, go to Fix the Formula Illinois.


July 2017

A new Public Act, 099-0781, requires school districts (for the 2017-2018 school year) to create a position for a “DCFS liaison,” who will coordinate enrollment of children under DCFS custody, track the children’s educational progress, ensure appropriate credits are earned to facilitate graduation, coordinate with community child welfare providers, and “encourage a successful transition into adulthood and post-secondary opportunities.”


June 2017

The new school funding bill, SB 1, creating a new school funding formula with an evidence-based model of school funding distribution, has passed both the House and Senate and is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature to become law. Click here to read more information regarding the bill.


May 2017

A currently pending Illinois Senate Bill, SB 764, would require DCFS to distribute materials in schools listing the toll-free DCFS hotline number to be visibly displayed throughout the school.


April 2017

A pending Illinois House Bill, HB 3903, would prohibit schools from creating “booking stations” and making arrests of students on school grounds or at school-supported functions.


March 2017

The National School Boards Association has published an updated Transgender Students in Schools guidance document, which includes updated legal rulings and President Trump’s February 2017 revocation of previous guidance created by former President Obama’s administration.


February 2017

A proposed Senate Bill, SB 1483, would alter a school district’s deadline to provide parents inspection and copying rights to their child’s school records from 15 school days to 5 business days.


January 2017

Proposed Illinois House Bill 261 would allow school districts to provide housing (rent or mortgage) assistance to a homeless student if the cost is less than paying the transportation costs for the student to attend their district of origin.


December 2016

A new Illinois Appellate court decision, Mulvey v. Carl Sandburg High School, found that a district’s student handbook does not constitute a “contract,” and therefore the parents’ breach of contract claim that the district did not investigate a bullying incident pursuant to its policies in the handbook was void. The court also dismissed the parents’ claim that the district acted “willful and wantonly” in disregard of the incident, due to the school district’s tort immunity.


November 2016

A newly proposed Senate Bill 550 would require school districts and day care centers to test for lead in their drinking water supply. It is unknown whether this bill will pass Illinois’ House floor, however, as it is being opposed by various municipalities and water utility entities.


October 2016

The US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights released non-regulatory guidance to support districts in preventing sexual misconduct, encourage reports of misconduct, improve responses to reports of misconduct and comply with applicable federal laws.


September 2016

An Illinois Federal District Court found in Martin ex rel. Estate of C.D.C. v. East St. Louis School District #189, that a school district was not guilty of a Section 1983 claim after it failed to prevent the rape of a female intellectually disabled student within the school. The judge pointed out that failing to lock the special education wing of the school did not lead to amount to the creation of a “dangerous situation,” and the fact that the girl was not being supervised 1:1 by a teacher did not amount to neglect, as “the district had no reason to believe [the boy] would push her into a janitor’s closet with her attacker.”


August 2016

The Illinois State Board of Education released its first draft of the state’s plan to regulate the federal Every Student Succeeds Act (“ESSA”).  Comments from the public and organizations regarding the draft plan are being solicited, and are due by October 9, 2016.


July 2016

The Illinois State Board of Education just published an updated version of its Appropriate Standard Practices for Illinois Special Education Due Process Proceedings, providing guidance to Illinois due process hearing officers (as well as school districts and parents) with respect to the handling of IDEA cases.


June 2016

The National School Board Association recently published its Legal Guide on Transgender Student Issues, offering Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for school boards and staff regarding restroom and locker room access for transgender students.


May 2016

A new court ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, S.B. vs. Board of Educ. of Harford County, has found that school districts are only liable for student-on-student harassment under Section 504 if it is found to be “deliberately indifferent.” As such, the districts would only be held liable for monetary damages for the same if its “response… or lack thereof is clearly unreasonable in light of the known circumstance.”


April 2016

A newly proposed Illinois HB 4606 would make changes to the notice requirements school districts have to provide to students whom they believe are non-residents of the school districts. The new bill would require schools to provide: 1) Specific reasons why they believe the student is a nonresident, 2) Disclosure of witnesses and evidence 3 days prior to a residency hearing, 3) An appeal process to the regional Superintendent of Schools, and 4) Allowance of the child to attend school while the hearing and appeals process is pending.


March 2016

The Illinois Association for School Boards has published a sample School Resource Officer (SRO) Memorandum of Understanding for school districts to utilize as part of their policy reforms pursuant to the Illinois’ new discipline law, SB 100.


February 2016

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently found that the Chicago Public Schools did not commit age discrimination against a Principal whose contract it did not renew. In the case, Bordelon v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, the appellate panel agreed that just because the man’s supervisor had told the Principal “… it was time for [him] to give up,” that statement alone did not amount to enough evidence that it was discriminating against the man’s age.


January 2016

A new School District Self-Assessment Checklist has been created for districts to use as guidance when updating and revising their discipline policies  based on the new PA 99-0456 requirements.  The checklist was developed by the Transforming School Discipline Collaborative, “a collaborative of organizations that are working to ensure that Illinois’ schools are safe and supportive for all students.”


December 2015

Illinois was recently awarded $42 million in U.S. Department of Education funds to devote to strengthening the quality and accountability of its charter schools. In addition to the state-level awards, 12 charter management organizations (“CMOs”) also received awards, including Illinois’ Lawndale Educational and Regional Network and the Noble Network of Charter Schools. For more information, please read our detailed memo, Illinois Awarded $42 Million in Federal Grants for the Creation and Expansion of Public Charter Schools.


November 2015

In a new Illinois Appellate court decision, Earl v. Decatur Public Schools Board of Education, a judge agreed with the school district that the service learning hours required for high schoolers to graduate in Illinois did not constitute a form of “involuntary servitude.” The court remarked that the six hours required per year (for a total of 24 hours) was not considered “unreasonable, onerous, or unduly burdensome making it akin to involuntary servitude.”


October 2015

Illinois was one of nine states awarded $9.2 million from the US Department of Education earmarked to improve personnel training systems to help children with disabilities. The money, granted to Illinois’ Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, will be utilized to reform and improve statewide systems for personnel preparation and professional development in early intervention, and well as for education and transition services for all special education students.


September 2015

A new Illinois Public Act 99-0443 requires the Illinois State Board of Education to develop a model youth suicide awareness and prevention policy, which includes certain components that school districts are required to adopt as part of their policies on suicide awareness.


August 2015

The U.S. Department of Education has released new guidance on testing English Language Learners with disabilities in annual English language proficiency assessments.


July 2015

A newly proposed SB 1793 would require the ISBE to develop a model youth suicide awareness and prevention policy for adoption by school districts beginning during the 2015-2016 school year.


June 2015

Illinois Senate Bill 1591 was introduced, which would require charter school proposals to include any known civil or criminal investigations into an organization or member of the governing body of the organization.


May 2015

A newly proposed house bill, HB 2781, would allow school districts to create e-learning programs, permitting students to receive instruction electronically (not physically present at school) for a limited number of days during a school year.


April 2015

A new Senate Bill, SB 100, was introduced that would make significant changes to student suspension and expulsion procedures, including:

  • Requiring Districts to include in a written expulsion decision specific reasons why expulsion is in the best interest of the school;
  • Prohibiting “zero tolerance” discipline policies;
  • Prohibiting suspensions for more than three days unless the student’s continuing presence would post a threat to school safety or disruption to other students’ learning opportunities;
  • Prohibiting 45-day removals unless all other appropriate and available behavioral and disciplinary interventions have been exhausted (documentation required);
  • Provision of “appropriate and available supports” for students suspended more than four days;
  • Requiring a policy to facilitate the re-engagement of students who are suspended or expelled; and
  • Requiring a policy to allow students the opportunity to make up work for equivalent academic credit.

March 2015

A newly proposed House Bill, HB 3252, would create the Illinois School Choice Program, allowing for the payment of public funding to private schools through a voucher program.


February 2015

The new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (“PARCC”) testing was the subject of a legislative hearing to review testimony regarding the need, purpose, readiness and concerns about the standardized assessment. The hearing was called as a reaction to Chicago Public Schools’ position that it will not administer the assessment to the majority of its student population, an act which will put the state at risk of losing federal education dollars. At the close of the hearing, it was determined that a task force would be created to assess the roll out of PARCC and what assistance could be provided to Districts to ensure its compliance.


January 2015

The U.S. Senate recently published draft language for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA/NCLB). Proposed changes to the law address revisions to the current requirements for states to provide standardized testing annually, freezing funding levels at the current FY15 rates, and eliminating the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) and Annual Measurable Objectives (AMO) requirements for schools.


December 2014

A new Illinois House Bill, HB 3796, clarifies the definition of “voluminous request” in regards to the Freedom of Information Act, in an attempt to protect public bodies from citizens abusing the law to repeatedly request large amounts of information.


November 2014

The federal Office of Special Education Programs (“OSEP”) recently published guidance in  Letter to Reilly (114 LRP 49672), indicating that, unlike IDEA matters, neither the school district nor the parents have the burden of proof in state board of education complaints.  OSEP noted, “Unlike due process hearings, State complaints are investigative in nature, rather than adversarial, and do not include the same procedural rights accorded to parties in an impartial due process hearing. Therefore, the Department believes that it is not consistent with the IDEA regulation for an SEA to treat a State complaint like a due process complaint and assign the burden of proof to either party.”


October 2014

Illinois will receive nearly $2 million dollars in federal grants to help schools better prepare for emergencies, as well as to improve methods of discipline and support for struggling students. Through the School Emergency Management Grant Program, ISBE will receive more than $1 million to help school districts develop and implement high-quality school emergency operations plans. In addition, the School Climate Transformation Grant Program will provide $800,000 to three school districts – Alton CUSD #11, Zion Elementary School District #6 and Sandoval CUSD #501 – will help reduce school violence by providing mental health services.


September 2014

An Illinois impartial due process hearing officer recently found that a parents’ dispute of a re-evaluation and request for an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) for their Autistic child was considered “frivolous,” as the District’s assessment met all the procedural requirements and utilized a variety of assessment tools. The hearing officer in the matter noted that the parents’ demand for an IEE “clearly” met the frivolousness standard, as the evaluation conducted by the District included, “… [A] comprehensive evaluation, for which Parent provided no meaningful level of challenge…”


August 2014

A new Illinois law (P.A. 98-0639) will require all Illinois charter schools to comply with federal and state laws and regulations regarding the education of students with disabilities and the instruction of English language learners.


July 2014

A new Illinois law, Public Act 98-0705, requires the Illinois State Board of Education to adopt a definition of Dyslexia and establish an advisory group to develop training for educators on Dyslexia, including multi-sensory, systematic and sequential instruction in reading.


June 2014

A new Illinois Senate Bill, SB 2793, was sent to the Governor for signature which will require the Illinois State Board of Education to prepare a report and analyze disciplinary information from each school district in order to determine whether school districts are using “harsh disciplinary practices,” or exhibiting racial inequalities during disciplinary practices.


May 2014

A new Illinois House Resolution, HR 543,  has been proposed to urge ISBE to delay the implementation of the new Common Core Standards, in order for the ISBE and General Assembly to create a viable plan for additional funding  to school districts which need “improvements and modernization” to comply with the new standards.


April 2014

The Illinois House of Representatives recently passed through a new House Resolution which would require legislative hearings to be held regarding the administration and funding of high school sports and the Illinois High School Association, as well as the safety of high school athletes and viability of the ISBE to take over IHSA duties and functions.


March 2014

The Illinois House Elementary and Secondary Education Committee approved a bill (HB 5537) that would allow the Illinois State Board of Education to remove elected school board members based on their governance and behavior. In addition, all school boards would be required to go through a national accrediting process. If the school district failed to secure accreditation, then ISBE would have power to remove the entire Board of Education and replace it with an “Independent Authority” that would operate the school district.


February 2014

Pending Illinois HB5840 would amend the State Mandates Act to require the Illinois State Board of Education to collect and maintain information concerning state mandates for schools, determine the statewide implementation of state mandates for schools, review school district applications for reimbursement submitted under the  Act for payment of state mandates, and annually report to the Governor and General Assembly regarding the administration of the Act.


January 2014

The Illinois Education Funding Advisory Committee has completed its final report to propose an education funding system which provides adequate, equitable, transparent and accountable distribution of funds to public schools.


December 2013

WCT unveils its new firm name of Whitted, Takiff + Hansen LLC.


November 2013

A new Illinois Public Act, PA 98-0383, provides for “stay-put placement” of a student in their current setting when a school district and parent voluntarily agree to pursue mediation through the Illinois State Board of Education. If an agreement is not reached during mediation, then a parent has 10 days in which to file for due process in order to continue the “stay-put” placement and services.  In addition, the act requires school districts to provide a formal, written response to all complaints filed against it through the ISBE.


October 2013

The House Elementary and Secondary Committee approved Senate Bill 1689, which requires Regional Offices of Education (ROE) to shrink from 44 to 35 total regions by January 2014, based on the decreased population counted within the most recent census information. If the ROEs could not complete the consolidation independently, the Illinois State Board of Education would do so.


September 2013

The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (“IEMA”) received a $25 million federal grant for local schools to upgrade school safety features. The monies will be distributed on a competitive grant basis, and must be utilized for upgraded features, including notification and warning systems, locking devices and entry systems, land-mobile radios and base systems, metal detectors, security sensors, and camera-based security systems.


August 2013

A new law in Illinois, Public Act 98-0129 (effective January 12, 2014), requires school districts to publish rules and/or policies regarding student use of social networking websites, including the circumstances in which the District might request or require the student to provide a password or other account information.


July 2013

The Illinois Council of School Attorneys published its most recent annual “Guide to Illinois Statutes Affecting Schools.”


June 2013

Brooke Whitted has been elected to a second year as Vice Chair of the Illinois Community and Residential Services Authority (CRSA€). The CRSA, which if formerly called the “Residential Services Authority,”€ was created in 1985 based on recommendations of the School Problems Commission. At that time, special education was set as a federal priority and many state agencies in Illinois were changing their policies to comply with the federal law. In addition, the case law was in the beginning of its now thirty years of development and there were many aspects of special education law, including provisions involving residential placement, to be developed. One of the things that was occurring and was the subject of litigation was the finger pointing among state agencies as to who would pay for particularly complex childrens’ services. The CRSA was created in part as a result of the litigation that was occurring then, as well as the recommendations of the Commission.

The CRSA is a “diamond in the rough” in state government. While it is embedded as a line item in the budget of the State Board of Education, it is a separate agency with a separate board and a separate allocation from the legislature. This allocation is a small one for the work that the staff of the CRSA does every single year to prevent emotionally disturbed children from falling between the cracks of the very complex and fragmented Illinois child services delivery system. The CRSA performs a very valuable and pivotal service with the very most severely disabled emotionally disturbed children, and is free of charge to Illinois families.


May 2013

The Illinois Senate has proposed a bill, SB 1931, which would create the School Security and Standards Task Force, which would study the security of schools, make recommendations, and draft standards for use by schools to make them more secure and to provide a safer learning environment for children in Illinois.


April 2013

HB 2691 creates the criminal felony offense of “theft of public funds,” which defines an offense as when a person embezzles, steals, purloins, obtains by fraud or knowingly converts to his or her use money or “things of value” of any unit of local government or school district. Charges for amounts up to $300 would be a Class 4 felony, a Class 2 felony for amounts between $300 and $10,000, a Class 1 felony for amounts between 10,000 and 100,000, and a Class X felony for amounts exceeding $100,000 in value.


March 2013

A newly-proposed HB 2944 would require public school districts to administer ISAT examinations to students from non-public schools within its boundaries.


February 2013

A newly-proposed Senate Bill (SB 1307) would lower Illinois’ current compulsory school attendance age from 7 to 5.


January 2013

WTH 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 publicly funded vouchers to be used for tuition at non-public schools.


November 2012

The Illinois Supreme Courtruled 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

WTH 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

WTH 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:

  • 9/18/08, 1 p.m. Oak Park Village Hall, City Council Chambers, 123 Madison Street, Oak Park, IL
  • 8/30/08, 6 p.m. Thornwood High School, 17101 S. Park Avenue, South Holland, IL
  • 10/2/08, 6 p.m. Loyola University, 6525 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL
  • 10/6/08, 7 p.m. Lincolnwood City Hall, City Council Chambers, 6900 N. Lincoln Avenue, Lincolnwood, IL
  • 10/9/08, 1 p.m. State Capitol, Room 118, Springfield, IL

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 .

The law firm of Whitted Takiff serves clients in Northbrook and throughout northern Illinois, in communities such as Chicago, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, Waukegan, Woodstock, Belvidere, Geneva, Wheaton, Yorkville, Joliet, Skokie, Glenview, Highland Park, Buffalo Grove, and Evanston. Whitted Takiff also has served clients from out of state, including Florida, Indiana, Missouri, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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