Illinois House Bill 3308 was signed into law, which permanently extends the ability of all healthcare providers to conduct telehealth sessions with their patients, and requires them to be fully covered by insurance.
Illinois House Bill 2643 was signed into law which allows educational support personnel to receive extended unemployment insurance benefits for the summer of 2021, due to the continued COVID-19 pandemic.
A pending Illinois Senate bill, SB 808, would remove the requirement for student teacher candidates to videotape him/herself or his/her students in a classroom setting as part of their licensure requirement. The purpose of the change is to allow for greater confidentiality of students.
Proposed Illinois Senate Bill, SB 2109, would require school board members and administrators to receive annual instruction on the adoption of a trauma-informed school standard.
An Illinois Education Reform Bill, P.A. 101-0654, was signed by Governor Pritzker which makes significant changes to several educational areas. Some of the more significant reform measures enacted by this bill include:
- The addition of two years of a laboratory science to high school graduation requirements (enacted by 2024-2025 school year);
- The addition of one year of “intensive instruction” in computer literacy to high school graduation requirement;
- A requirement for instruction in computer literacy beginning in elementary school;
- The addition of two years of foreign language to high school graduation requirement;
- Revisions to learning standards for computer and social sciences;
- A requirement for a unit of instruction on black history;
In addition, the state will create task forces/councils in several areas to conduct research, including:
- Inclusive American History Commission;
- Whole Child Task force;
- Behavioral Health Services diagnostic assessment system;
- P-20 Council to research short- and long-term learning recovery actions for public school students in wake of COVID-19
The bill will also require the following:
- The Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) to create a common assessment tool for all students entering kindergarten;
- School districts to amend their accelerated placement policy to allow for automatic enrollment of a student into the next most rigorous level of advanced coursework if the student meets/exceeds state standards in English/language arts, math or science;
- The establishment of a six-week summer school program run by Freedom Schools, to motivate active civic engagement and empower disenfranchised communities;
- Increase funding for Minority Teacher Scholarships and programmatic and fiscal changes to the Illinois Teaching Excellence Program; and
- Removal of the requirement of applications for an Alternative Teacher License to achieve at least a 3.0 GPA.
A Federal court in Georgia recently ruled in Davis ex rel. Harris v. Thomas that official immunity shielded a teacher from physical abuse claims. Despite the disturbing claims, which included a special education teacher instructing a paraprofessional to hang a disabled student from a chalkboard, mocking him and failing to take the student down until a Principal intervened, the Federal court ruled that the teacher did not act with, “…actual malice or an actual intent to cause emotional injury to [the student].” The school employee’s immunity, therefore, shielded her from abuse claims in her individual capacity.
A currently pending Illinois Senate Bill, SB 2071, would allow applicants who have earned a Master’s degree in social worker and holds a valid state license as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (“LCSW”) to obtain a social worker endorsement on an Educator License.
A pending Illinois House Bill, HB 12, would require school districts and other educational institutions to grant Family Medical Leave to employees who have been employed for one year (12 months) and worked at least 1,000 hours within that timeframe.
Many school districts in the state of Illinois entered into an “adaptive pause” for in-person school instruction, due to the state entering into emergency Tier 3 mitigation efforts in response to a significantly increasing number of COVID infections. Remote learning formats were reinitiated, requiring students to stay home until infection rates lowered.
The Office of Special Education Programs published guidance for Early Intervention service providers for providing services during the COVID-19 pandemic. OSEP has stated that if health-related restrictions prohibit service providers from performing in-person services, then the child’s IFSP team must reconvene to consider alternatives to meet the child’s needs.
An Idaho hearing officer found in West Ada School District No. 2 that the district’s substitution of a 1:1 school nurse for a disabled student did not constitute a violation of FAPE. While the parents of the student argued that the student’s initial nurse had been chosen and trained by the parents, when that nurse had to take medical leave and a substitute had to be chosen, the IHO found that the parents did not have a right to participate in the selection of the substitute. The IHO further noted that prior consent/approval for substitute personnel are not required by law, nor did the student’s IEP require parental participation in substitution decisions.
The Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) has revised its rules to expand the definition of “temporary school records” in the School Student Records Act. The new rules now specify that information contained in service logs maintained by educational professionals as part of their service to students with disabilities will be included in the definition of temporary school record. In addition, the new rules expand the ways that school districts can notify parents of the impending destruction of records to include publication in a student handbook or student newspaper, by U.S. mail or by, “any other means provided receipt of the notice is confirmed.”
A newly proposed House Bill, HB 1459, would create the Nurse Licensure Compact Act, would allow nurses to hold “multistate” licenses, allowing licensed nurses to practice not only in their resident state, but also in additional coordinating compact states.
The Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) issued an official statement regarding the return of in-person learning in Illinois. The IFT indicated its “grave concerns” regarding the safety of its teachers, students and community members without adequate social distancing and other safety precautions, including adequate cleaning protocols, ventilation systems, temperature checks, contract tracing and COVID-19 testing accessible to all community members.
A Senate Bill, SB 1857, which has passed both the Senate and House and is currently awaiting signature by the Governor, would allow for retired teachers to substitute teach for 120 school days per school year without impacting their Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS) benefits.
The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance to all school district staff to ensure children with disabilities are provided the same learning opportunities as regular education students during the COVID-19 school closures. The Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) emphasized that accessibility to technology is an important component to provide students with disabilities educational opportunities, and advised for IEP teams to continue holding annual review meetings, initial evaluations and re-evaluations (if possible) via telephone or electronic means. If face-to-face evaluations are required, OCR is allowing continuations of the evaluations until after school facilities reopen.
A newly proposed House Bill, HB 4510, would provide that no later than September 1, 2020, Illinois school districts must establish a teacher evaluation plan which ensures that all teachers whose performance is rated as “excellent” or “proficient” is formally evaluated once every three years and informally evaluated once every two years after receiving the rating.
A newly proposed Senate Bill (SB 3001) would provide that an applicant who has earned their Master’s Degree in social work and holds a valid Social Worker license from the State of Illinois may obtain a social worker endorsement on an Educator License with Stipulations from the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”).
A new law, PA 101-0594 (effective immediately), reinstates a competency test for people seeking a paraprofessional educator endorsement to work in Illinois schools.
A new Illinois law, PA 101-0594, was signed by the Governor which amends the Educator Licensure Article of the School Code to allow certification of a Paraprofessional on an Educator License to be issued to an application who (among other qualifications) has passed a paraprofessional competency test. The new law will allow paraprofessionals to bypass the requirement for an associate’s degree or minimum number of higher education credits if they can pass the competency test, and is hoped to relieve the severe paraprofessional shortage (955 open positions as of the end of October 2019) being experienced by school districts throughout the state of Illinois.
A new Illinois law, PA 101-0620, was signed by the Governor which protects the privacy of public employees, affirms collective bargaining rights, and clarifies due deduction procedures. For a more detailed description of the new provisions of the law, see the Illinois Education Association’s coverage of the legislation.
Governor Pritzker signed into law the Children and Young Adult Mental Health Crisis Act (PA 101-0461). The Act makes Illinois the first state in the country to require private insurance coverage for multi-disciplinary treatment approaches for serious mental health conditions for children and young adults under the age of 26. It also expands coverage for mental health treatment under Medicaid, as well as under the Family Support Program (“FSP”), a mental health grant system in Illinois which provides free mental health services and residential services for children and young adults suffering from severe mental health issues. The bill is effective beginning January 1, 2020.
Governor Pritzker signed a new law (PA 101-0443) granting Illinois teachers a minimum salary of $40,000. The state will increase the minimum salaries incrementally over the next four years:
- Not less than $32,076 for 2020-2021;
- Not less than $34,576 for 2021-2022;
- Not less than $37,076 for 2022-2023; and
- Not less than $40,000 for 2023-2024.
The minimum salary after 2024 then will be increased per the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) from the previous school year.
A new Illinois law, PA 101-0370, requires public school districts, public schools, charter schools or non-public schools to allow school nurses and/or school administrators to administer a medical cannabis infused product to a student.
A new revision (P.A. 1001-0046) to the Illinois law regarding educational support personnel employees requires that if an employee is fired as a result of a Reduction in Force (RIF), if the employee is rehired by the same school district at some point in the future, the employee maintains the rights accrued during the previous service with the school district.
A new 7th Circuit appellate decision, Manley v. Hinsdale Township High School District #86, denied a school board member’s suit against its school district, which was investigating the board member for violating its own board policy. The investigation was spurred after the school board member got into a verbal altercation with a student, who was leafletting for the school board member’s election opponent outside of a high school play. The student alleged that the board member bullied her during the altercation, and a bullying investigation ensued. The board member then sued the school district, arguing that the investigation violated her Constitutional rights of 1) a feeling of fair-dealing on the part of government, 2) mental and emotional well-being, and 3) entitlement to processes mandated by the State and the District. Both the federal and appellate courts denied the board member’s claims, indicating that none of the three interests cited were Constitutionally protected, and stated that, “American politics is not for the thin-skinned, even or perhaps, especially, at the local level.” The decision also serves as a reminder that school board members, like district employees and agents, are also subject to complaints of improper conduct toward students under various board policies.
Pending Senate Bill 456 would require stricter criminal background checks for school personnel, requiring them to be performed every 5 years (instead of only prior to hiring). In addition, it would allow the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”) to conduct random audits of teachers to determine if they are fulfilling continuing education requirements, and would require ISBE to immediately suspend or revoke a teacher’s licensing if they are arrested for committing, or attempting to commit, certain felonies, including sex offenses, first degree murder, or a Class X felony.
A new pending bill, House Bill 355, would require educators to devote 15 of their required 120 hours of professional development to training on inclusive instructional and behavioral strategies to improve the social and emotional growth for all students.
A recent Indiana Department of Education Office of Special Education ruling, Westview School Corporation, allows for substitute teachers, who are supervised by a properly-licensed special education teacher, to provide direct services to special education students without being licensed as a special educator.
The Illinois House Judiciary-Criminal Committee is considering a proposed House Bill, HB 2235, which would allow for school resource officers to carry a firearm.
A newly proposed Illinois House Bill, HB 4657, would create the Emotional Intelligence Education Task Force to help develop curriculum guidelines and best practices on social-emotional learning (SEL) and emotional intelligence.
The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana has developed the IEP Quality Project, a grant-based project which provides resources for special education teachers to help create more appropriate IEP goals, services and accommodations for individual students. To register for access, visit the web link.
The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) approved specific recommendations to expand and diversify the state’s highly qualified teacher workforce. Specific legislative changes will: 1) Create three job-embedded routes to licensure for paraprofessionals, substitutes, transitional bilingual educators, and career changers, 2) Remove the requirement of a test of basic skills for individuals already possessing a bachelor’s degree (from a regionally accredited institution), and 3) Expand mentoring supports to experienced teachers and professionals.
A vetoed Illinois House Bill 4743, overridden by the House of Representatives, would disallow employers from discriminating against African American employees, and requires that all employees who engage in the same or substantially similar work, requiring equal skill, effort and responsibility, to be paid equally.
A new Illinois law, Public Act 100-1066, allows greater rights for employees when filing claims against their employers under the Illinois Human Rights Act. The new amendments allow: 1) A longer time period (300 days, up from 180 calendar days) for employees to file complaints, 2) Restructuring of the IHRA Commission in order to expedite matters and decrease the backlog of cases, and 3) The ability to opt out of the Illinois Department of Human Rights administrative investigation and instead move forward immediately with a complaint in Illinois’ state circuit courts.
A new Illinois law, PA 100-0684, requires teachers to provide instruction during sex education classes (with an emphasis on workplace and life on a college campus) material and discussion on what constitutes sexual consent and what may be considered sexual harassment or assault.
A new Illinois law, PA 100-0625, requires law enforcement officers (if requested) to accompany DCFS workers during investigations of child abuse or neglect.
The Illinois School and Campus Safety Program and Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board Executive Institute will be providing free two-day Student Behavioral Threat Assessment Workshops in July 2018. School administrators, board members, counselors, SROs, mental health agencies and local law enforcement are encouraged to attend one of the two training programs, offered at Dunlap High School in Dunlap, Illinois on July 16-17 or at Wredling Middle School in St. Charles on July 18-19. For more information, register here.
Currently pending Senate Bill 2925 would codify the role of School Resource Officers (“SROs”) within schools, establishing a training program and requiring law enforcement agencies to conduct training to all current and new SROs before January 2021.
A newly proposed Illinois House Bill, HB 5482, would prohibit anyone from being denied a teaching license based solely upon citizenship or immigration status.
A new House Bill, HB 5110, proposes that all out-of-state licensed clinical social workers, social workers, professional counselors or clinical professional counselors would be eligible for a reciprocal license in the state of Illinois, as long as the requirements for licensure in the previous jurisdiction are substantially equivalent to Illinois’ standards.
Proposed Illinois Senate Bill 2892 would mandate a minimum teacher salary at $40,000 (the current minimum amount is $10,000).
A newly proposed Illinois Senate Bill, SB 2542, would amend the definition of “school psychologist” to include any person who holds a Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential (rather than certificate).
Illinois police are now required to complete Crisis Intervention Training (“CIT”) as art of their basic training requirements, under new Illinois law PA 100-0247. The CIT would include training on how to handle domestic violence situations, as well as “mental health awareness and response” training.
A new Illinois law, PA 100-0196, amends the Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Code to increase outpatient therapy efforts to children under the age of 12. The law increases the number of sessions that can be held without parental consent from 5 to 8, and increases the length of each session from 45 to 90 minutes. It also allows for the continuation of therapy sessions if the provider makes at least two unsuccessful attempts to obtain consent from the parents/guardians, and if obtaining parental consent would be detrimental to the well-being of the minor.
A new Illinois law, PA 100-0176, allows for the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) to recommend the removal of a school employee that is subject of a investigation, pending the outcome of the inquiry.
A new federal court decision, R.G. v. Hill, clarified that a school nurse who was assigned to more than one school was fully capable of implementing the nursing services required by a student with a seizure disorder, who might require emergency medical care.
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.
A new Public Act 90-0927, effective June 1, 2017, would require all students (beginning with the 2017-2018 school year) to receive “age-appropriate developmental screenings,” and “age-appropriate social emotional screenings,” as part of their required health examination and immunization screenings for certain grade levels.
The Illinois Senate Labor Committee is set to hear discussion surrounding HB 2462, which would prohibit employers from screening job applicants based on wage and salary history, or seeking salary history information from an applicant’s current/former employer.
Illinois pending HB 2545 would require all school personnel to undergo training every other year on the warning signs of mental illness and school district policies regarding suicide awareness.
A newly proposed House Bill, HB 3021, would require the Illinois State Board of Education to implement a program allowing temporary staffing firms to contract with school districts to provide substitute teachers, due to the current shortage in the state.
A pending Illinois House Bill, HB 826, would prohibit school social workers from providing services outside of their employment to any students with the school district, and makes a specific recommendation for a student to social worker ratio of 250 to 1.
A new Senate Bill, SB 912, would require mandated DCFS reporters (including all school personnel) to complete 4 hours a year of training to recognize signs of domestic violence.
A newly pending Senate Bill, SB 11, would make significant changes to the Teachers’ Retirement System, including:
- A $180,000 salary cap for state-funded pensions,
- A replacement of the current 6% “cap” with the Consumer Price Index (CPI),
- Election of TRS members to chose either a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) or a guaranteed 3% annual increase,
- Option to participate in a 401K Plan, as opposed to the TRS.
A recent due process hearing decision, Swanson by Swanson-Houston v. Yuba City School District, denied the parents’ complaint to chose a particular nurse to provide services to their Diabetic son. The hearing officer argued that the school’s proposed nurse, who had 23 years experience and had worked with children with Diabetes before, and therefore the parents had “no legal support” to request a different school nurse who had previously worked with their son.
A pending Senate Bill 2822, which would provide additional funding for the Chicago Public Schools teacher pension fund, was vetoed by Governor Rauner. The bill remains vetoed (despite attempts to override the veto by various Senate members) and will remain so until the new 100th Illinois General Assembly is sworn in at noon on January 11, 2017.
A new Illinois law, Public Act 99-0616, requires all teacher institute days to provide training every two years on the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding the school environment.
A Tennessee teacher was recently disciplined for keeping a Learning Disabled student in from recess to complete missing assignments. After the teacher “raised her voice to the student,” and prevented the child from attending at least 10 recesses due to unfinished work, the boy’s parents sued the school district for harassment, based on the boy’s disability. The Office of Civil Rights investigated the incident, and found the teacher at fault, and the district guilty of failing to identify a “hostile environment” for the child.
A new Illinois public law, the Employee Sick Leave (PA 99-0743), allows employees to take off personal sick days for illnesses, injuries or medical appointments for not only themselves, but for immediate family members as well, including children, spouses, parents, in-laws, grandparents or stepparents.
The 7th Circuit Appellate panel recently found in Brown v. Chicago Board of Education that the school district had a right to fire a high school social studies teacher after he used a racial epithet in class as part of a classroom discussion. Because he was acting as a school district employee, and not as a “citizen,” at the time of the occurrence, First Amendment rights were not afforded to him.
A new Illinois Senate Bill, SB 2137, would require teacher training at least every two years on the federal Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) during teacher institutes.
In a recent court decision, Coomes v. Edmonds School District No. 15, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against a former teacher bringing a wrongful termination suit against her school district following her voicing concerns regarding the school’s special education program. The court concluded that the teacher’s speech was not protected by the First Amendment, even though it involved a matter of public concern, because it was made pursuant to her duties as an employee.
A newly proposed Illinois Senate Bill 2137 would require 15 days’ notice of a child bringing a service dog into a school environment. In addition, an amendment to the bill would also require all teachers to receive inservice training (every 2 years) on the Americans with Disabilities Act “as it pertains to the school environment.”
The U.S. Department of Education has provided a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) page regarding the new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), to support states and local education agencies in understanding expectations during the transition to full implementation of the new Act.
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.
The Ohio Center for Autism and Low Incidence Disabilities has created the first of its kind online training course which provides guidance on the education of children who have been diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The course, The Many Faces of Autism, was developed for “parent, grandparent, neighbor, co-worker, teacher, bus driver, or librarian,” and any other service provider to “introduce you to characteristics of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and dispel common misconceptions through the experiences and perspectives of individuals on the autism spectrum.” The course also provides continuing education credits for social workers.
The American Psychological Association (“APA”) has now published guidelines for psychologists working with transgender patients. The guidelines follow the creation of an APA task force developed in 2009, and are focused on educating psychologists to better understand the lifespan development, stigma, discrimination and barriers to care faced by the transgender population.
ISBE has released new guidance regarding teacher resignation procedures, subsequent to an Illinois Appellate Court decision from Board of Education of Park Forest Heights School District No. 163 v. the State Teacher Certification Board, et. al. The new guidance upholds Illinois’ statutory requirement that if a teacher (considered “tenured” or otherwise), wants to resign mid-school year to accept another teaching position, the teacher must first petition to the school board at last 30 days prior to leaving, and must obtain full board concurrence prior to resignation.
A new Illinois law, Public Act 99-0058 (a Vision 20/20 initiative), passed, authorizing ISBE to use specified monies to support the recruitment and retention of educators. It also makes changes concerning specific endorsements for chief school business officials, and other administrator and teaching licenses.
A new Illinois Public Act 99-0058 (effective July 16, 2015) provides funding for ISBE to recruit and retain educators, and makes changes in licensure requirements for teachers, business officials, and administrator licensures, including the creation of a “Chief School Business Official,” endorsement.
The U.S. Department of Education has released new guidance on testing English Language Learners with disabilities in annual English language proficiency assessments.
A newly-proposed Senate Bill, SB 226, would require the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to implement a program designed to screen and register disabled children for the Prioritization of Urgency of Need for Services (PUNS) waiting list for services.
A new Illinois bill, HB 2657, was sent to the Governor for signature which would authorize the ISBE to use previously-allocated moneys in supporting the recruitment and retention of educators. The bill will also make changes to certain endorsements for chief school business officials and other administrator and teaching licenses in Illinois.
A newly proposed Illinois senate bill, SB 706, would require non-public schools to perform criminal background checks on student teachers.
A new house bill, HB 3123, would amend the definition of “school counseling services,” to include: 1) Actively supporting students in need of special education services by implementing the academic, personal or social, and college or career development services or interventions as required by a school professional per an IEP, 2) Participating in or contributing to a student’s IEP, or 3) Completing a social developmental history.
A new House Bill, HB 3123, changes the definition of “school counseling services,” to include:
- implementing academic, personal, social or career development services,
- “participating in or contributing to,” a student’s IEP and
- completing a social developmental history.
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.
A new Illinois Public Act, PA 98-0917, was enacted, allowing for four years of working as a school support personnel (i.e. counselors) to count toward a principal endorsement for a Professional Educator License.
A new Illinois Senate Bill, SB 2809, was approved by both the Senate and the House and allows for a civil action to be brought by the Attorney General to stop the payment of pension benefits under any of the State’s pension systems to any employee who is convicted of a felony relating to, arising out of, or connected with that person’s service as an employee.
A proposed Senate Bill, SB 2711, would allow principals to apply recognized out-of-state time to count toward the minimum four years’ experience necessary for a Principal Endorsement.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights published guidance to school districts and educational personnel to help stop bullying of students with disabilities.
The U.S. Supreme Court recently refused a request to hear a lawsuit which challenged California’s law prohibiting licensed psychologists and other mental health workers from providing “conversion therapy,” (a type of treatment aimed to change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual) to minors. In its denial, the high court let stand a previous 9th Circuit appellate decision that found that California had demonstrated such therapy had no scientific merit and the law did not violate free-speech rights of mental health professionals and patients.
A new Illinois law (P.A. 98-0716) makes changes to the Employment of Teachers Article of the School Code by requiring new or existing employees to be subject to additional health examinations, as well as a provisions that school boards may require all employees (not just teachers) to “furnish evidence of continued professional growth.”
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.
A new Illinois Senate Bill, SB 2989, was proposed which would allow psychologists who hold a Nationally Certified School Psychologist certificate to meet the definition of “school psychologist” as defined by the Illinois State Board of Education.
A recent New Mexico decision, Castillo v. Hobbs Mun. School Bd., denied relief to a former assistant principal who brought a suit against his school district employer for infringement of his “good name and reputation,” after the school district released a copy of a tape-recorded sexual explicit phone conversation he had with this secretary. The court found that the school district took no unreasonable actions when it elected not to renew the administrator’s one-year contract, and instead offered him a position as a 1st grade teacher.
A new Illinois Appellate Court Decision, Uptown People’s Law Center v. Department of Corrections (2014 Ill. App. 1st 130161), changes the definition of “prevailing party,” related to matters involving FOIA requests. While the appellate court ultimately upheld the denial of attorneys fees to the law center, the 1st circuit found that a court order is not a prerequisite to a “prevailing party” status under FOIA, but that a party may obtain fees “regardless of the extent that he or she is successful in a court action.”
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.
A pending Illinois Senate Bill (SB 2682) would require all history teachers to include the history of organized labor and the collective bargaining process to their curriculum.
The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its 2014 final rule, which included increased “work values” fees for mental health providers including psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and clinical social workers.
WCT unveils its new firm name of Whitted, Takiff + Hansen LLC.
A new Illinois Appellate Court decision, Jones v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, upheld the termination of a Chicago Public Schools tenured teacher after she falsified residency information on her child’s own enrollment forms so they could be enrolled in particular selective-enrollment schools. The appellate court noted in the decision that under the Illinois School Code, the “immoral conduct” of a school employee is “automatically irremediable” without further evidence needed.
Revisions to the Illinois rules and regulations (23 Ill. Admin. Code 226.160) went into effect which added a “training or assessment option” for school nurses to become qualified to make educational recommendations regarding accommodations, modifications, and/or interventions based on the results of a student’s medical review.
A new Illinois law, Public Act 98-0471 (effective January 1, 2014) requires junior high school and high school administrators, teachers and counselors to receive in-service training on mental illness.
A new House Bill 2322 allows school social work services to be implemented by those with a Professional Educator License with an endorsement in social work. It also allows the implementation of social and emotional educational programs as well as bullying intervention programs to be included in the definition of “school social work services.”
The Illinois Council of School Attorneys published its most recent annual “Guide to Illinois Statutes Affecting Schools.”
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 âResidential 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 childrensâ 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.
A new Illinois House Bill, HB 2590, would grant employers the right to seek an order of protection against individuals to prohibit further violence or threats of violence by a person if: a) The employee has suffered unlawful violence or a credible threat of violence from the person, and b) The unlawful violence has been carried out at the employer’s place of work or the credible threat of violence can reasonably be constructed to be carried out at the employee’s place of work.
The Illinois House recently proposed HB 1047, which would allow for private and public employers to ask employees for their username and password of any Internet account they access through the employer’s Internet system.
Proposed HB 2846 creates the Best Candidate for the Job Act, which would mandate both private and public employers (including local school districts) to “properly consider” formerly convicted criminals when filling open positions.
Newly proposed House Bill 64 would create the “Privacy in the School Setting Act,” prohibiting Illinois school personnel from requesting or requiring a student to provide a password for access to the student’s social networking account.
WTH is proud to announce that Jennifer L. Hansen is now a partner in the firm.
The American Psychiatric Association Board of Trustees has approved the final diagnostic criteria for the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (“DSM-5”). The final publication will be available in the spring of 2013.
New Public Act 97-0607 creates a new educator licensure system in Illinois. Instead of current the specified certificates, all educators, including related service personnel, teachers and administrators, would transfer over to one of three licenses: 1) Professional Educator License, 2) Educator License with Stipulations, or 3) Substitute License. In addition, a new Educator Licensure Information System (“ELIS”) will replace the current Educator Certification System (“ECS”) maintained by the state board, new standardized college preparation programs and certification testing will be developed and an educator code of ethics will be created.
New regulations in Illinois now require all teachers to receive passing grades on the computer-based ILTS Test of Academic Proficiency, which has replaced the Basic Skills test, and involves questions related to reading comprehension, language arts, mathematics and writing.
A new opinion from the 7th Circuit, Gschwind v. Heiden, #12-1755, allows a freedom of speech civil rights complaint involving a teacher against his school district to move forward despite the District court’s dismissal of the case. The case involved a teacher who had been threatened on two different occasions by the same student. After receiving the threats, the teacher reported the incidents to the school’s police liaison, assistant principal and principal. While the police liaison encouraged the teacher to file a criminal complaint regarding the matter, the assistant principal and principal both refused to support the criminal investigation, for fear of the student’s parents filing a retaliation lawsuit against the school. The teacher decided to move forward with the criminal complaint, and the very next day he received a “unsatisfactory” evaluation (his first) from the assistant principal and was later threatened with termination if he refused to resign his teaching position. The civil rights suit was dismissed (via the School District’s granted Summary Judgment Motion) by the District court, however, because it agreed with the school district that the complaint “did not involve a matter of public concern,” and therefore was not protected by the First Amendment. The Illinois Supreme court disagreed, arguing that it was clear the teacher had filed the complaint “in part to help ensure the smooth and safe operation of the school and everyone inside and, more importantly to a free-speech claim, to bring to the public light the face that such an incident had occurred.” The case has been remanded back to the District court.
A new Senate Bill 638 extends timelines (from 9/1/12 to 9/1/13) for persons to be accepted into an Alternative Teacher Certification program, and allows teaching to be performed in charter schools as well as public schools.
The new “Military Family Licensing Act” (PA 97-0710) was signed into law by Governor Quinn which allows for temporary expedited professional and educational licenses for active duty members of the military and their spouses after relocation to Illinois for military service.
The ISBE approved an amendment to the medical review regulations requiring schools to employ certificated school nurses (after July 1, 2013) to make recommendations regarding educational interventions, accommodations, or modifications for students with IEPs and 504 Plans.
A newly proposed Illinois Senate bill (SB 2849) would expand the definition for a “neglected child” to include any child who is subjected to an environment injurious to his or her health and welfare.
A new Senate Bill (SB 3415) would require all school officials (of private and public schools) including teachers, guidance counselors, and support staff to immediately notify the office of the principal if a student commits certain specified offenses, including (but not limited to): an assault, a battery, a criminal sexual assault or abuse (on school grounds or school-owned or leased property, including school buses), and incidents involving “great bodily harm.”
A newly proposed Illinois House bill (HB 4495) mandates that school guidance counselors, teachers, school social workers, and other school personnel who work with students in grades 7 through 12 to be trained in identifying the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior (instead of just suicidal behavior).
The Department of Defense issued revised regulations which would allow licensed professional counselors (LCPCs) to practice independently as mental health counselors within TRICARE, the government insurance program offered to active duty service members, retirees and their families. Previously, the regulations mandated that LCPCs be supervised and referred by monitoring physicians. Comments to the regulations are being heard until February 27, 2012, after which they will be codified.
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.
New regulation amendments are proposed regarding mandating reporting in Illinois, adding physician assistants, LPCPs, field personnel from the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and the Department of Human Services, LPCs, acupuncturists, animal control officers, Illinois Department of Agriculture animal health and welfare investigators, members of any district school board (including the Chicago Board of Education) and members of the governing body of any private school to the list of professionals mandated to report known or suspected cases of child abuse or neglect to DCFS.
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.
Proposed Illinois SB 512 would make pension changes that would affect employees who currently participate in the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS). Under the proposal, TRS-participating employees would have to select one of three pension plan options:
- Remain in the plan with the current TRS benefits but pay a higher contribution rate,
- Change to the “Tier II” plan and pay a lower contribution rate, or
- Participate in a 401(k) type plan.
Six new mental health bills signed by Governor Quinn last month establishes mental health parity among health insurance policies, ensuring that all insurance companies provide the same coverage for mental health and substance abuse disorders that they provide for all other conditions. HB 1530 (PA 97-0437) now requires the following:
- The addition of substance use disorders to the list of mental illnesses covered by the law,
- Facilities to define “medical necessity” in accordance with criteria established by the American Society of Addiction Medicine,
- Insurers to cover treatment for substance abuse disorders in a residential facility,
- Prohibits non-quantitative treatment limitations that are not used on a comparable basis for medical surgical benefits,
- The elimination of “lifetime limits” on mental health coverage,
- The elimination of “annual limits” on mental health coverage, and
- The eliminitation of a differentiated deductible for mental health services.
Governor Quinn has, by veto power, unilaterally eliminated the line item in the state budget which pays the salaries of Regional Superintendents of Schools (including the Assistant Superintendents). Discussions between the governor’s office, ISBE and the Regional Offices of Education have been fruitless, and will most likely continue through the October veto session.
Illinois’ Department of Public Health is proposing a “Psychiatry Incentive Program Code,” which would establish loans, grants and loan forgiveness aimed at child and adolescent psychiatrists in training who “establish and maintain psychiatric practices in underserved Illinois areas.” For more details on the proposed regulations, see the Illinois register.
Governor Quinn signed into law education reform bill SB 7. (See April 2011 entry below for more detailed information.)
The Illinois House Personnel and Pensions Committee has approved SB 512, a bill overhauling the state’s current pension systems, including the Teachers’ Retirement System.
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.
A new HB 3489 would require the completion of a 15-hour substitute authorization program (approved by the ISBE) before the issuance of a substitute teacher’s certificate.
The Illinois legislature adjourned without further consideration of possible education reform legislation, including making significant changes in teacher dismissal, tenure and strike laws. Discussions will continue in anticipation of having legislation ready for a vote later this spring.
New regulations regarding Speech Language Pathology licenses require additional technical instruction, increased hours of supervised clinical experience, and a requirement that the higher education program be accredited or approved by the Council on Academic Accreditations in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology.
Newly proposed Illinois regulations would require students attempting to earn a Professional Counselor or Clinical Professional Counselor license to hold a master’s or doctoral degree in the field of counseling, rehabilitation counseling, psychology or a similar degree.
New Illinois special education regulations go into effect which adopted a “Code of Ethics for Illinois Educators” (23 Ill. Admin. Code 22). The code specifies five core principles that educators must meet when addressing the educational needs of each student. These ethics apply to teachers of all public schools, as well as charter schools and institutions of higher education.
A federal court judge put on hold a previous order for Chicago Public Schools to retroactively change its teacher layoff process with the Chicago Teachers Union. The ruling comes as the latest in an ongoing battle between the district and the teacher’s union, which alleges that when CPS laid off hundreds of teachers over the summer due to budgetary constraints, district administrators did not abide by seniority and instead relied on other factors, such as unsatisfactory evaluation ratings and overstaffing projections, to make its decision. The court had previously ordered for CPS to reinstate the terminated teachers and provide back pay, however since CPS is appealing the ruling, a judge agreed to stay the order until the appeal is decided.
Field trials for newly proposed diagnostic criteria in the DSM-5 began this month. A total of 33 field trials are scheduled throughout the country, with 11 of the trials being conducted in large, academic medical settings and 22 of the trials occuring in smaller individual practices. Physicians registered with the AMA Masterfile will be randomly selected for the trials in October and November of 2010. The trials are scheduled to run through March of 2011, with a second phase of trials occurring from August to December 2011. A target print date for the updated DSM-5 is set for sometime in 2013.
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.
HB 6065, which will be signed by the governor when the general assembly returns in November 2010, requires all school personnel to be trained in on diabetes care, including how to identify when a student with diabetes needs immediate or emergency medical attention.
Public Act 96-0903 was signed into law, establishing new requirements for principal certification, including more stringent standards for principal preparation programs.
A new House Bill, HB 4672 (approved by both the Senate and the House, and pending Governor signature) requires for school social workers to attend the same in-service workshops as teachers regarding the identification of the warnings signs for suicidal behavior in teenagers.
A new House Bill, HB 5154, amends the Personnel Record Review Act to prohibit the disclosure of performance evaluations under the Freedom of Information Act. This bill would apply to all school district personnel, including teachers, administrators and superintendents.
A new Senate Bill, SB 1946, changes the provisions of the state pension system for new teacher hires. The bill would: calculate the final average salary for pension purposes using the highest 8 of 10 consecutive years (instead of 4 of the last 10 years), increase the age for full pension benefits to 67 years old, allow for retirement at 62 with lower retirement annuity, limit the annual average salary for pensionable purposes at $106,800, reduce the survivor annuity in certain circumstances and reduce the cost of living adjustment.
A new house bill introduced, HB 5132, would require DCFS to investigate resports of abuse or neglect of a student with disabilities as it would reports of abuse or neglect of a child. The definition of “student with disabilities” includes a public school student between the ages of 18-21 who is identified as having multiple disabilities and who has an IEP.
The governor signed into law a new Public Act (PA 96-0861, effective January 15, 2010) which will require that teacher and principal evaluations use student growth as part of the evaluation criteria.
In addition, Public Act 96-0628 went into effect, amending the School Student Records Act which provides additional protections for school social workers, counselors and school psychologists regarding confidential information communicated to them.
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.
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.
A recent Public Act, 96-788, the Illinois Premise Alert Program Act, encourages public safety officers to be further educated on how to respond to people with disabilities when responding to emergency situations. The act also allows for families of disabled individuals to register with their local police department information which would be helpful in an emergency situation, including diagnoses, current medications, risks of certain behaviors and other medical or diagnostic information they wish to share.
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.
Also, Public Act 96-0788, the Illinois Premise Alert Program (PAP), was signed by the governor which makes the state responsible for providing “guidance and direction” to all Illinois public safety workers (including firefighters, police officers and and other emergency response personnel) in responding to and assisting people with disabilities.
Public Act 96-0062, effective July 23, 2009, requires for all superintendents who have not previously served as a school district superintendent in the state of Illinois participate in a two-year mentoring program established by the ISBE.
A pending Senate Bill 1292 seeks to amend the Illinois Pension Code to establish a two-tier pension system for members of the Teachers’ Retirement System (TRS.) The new law would include different provisions for teachers hired after August 1, 2009, including provisions concerning creditable service, alternative forms of retirement annuities, annual increases, employee contributions, refunds and re-entry after retirement.
Senate Bill 1391 was sent to the House for approval requiring the ISBE to adopt rules to provide standards for the certification of marital and family therapists employed by school boards.
HB 2270, currently awaiting Senate approval, would require school districts to annually submit to the ISBE an itemized salary compensation report for every certified employee in the district, including teachers, administrators, and the district’s superintendent.
A currently pending Illinois House Bill, HB 326, provides that information disclosed by a student over the age of 12 (or the parents of a student) during a session with a school counselor or school counselor intern, would remain confidential and would not become part of the student’s school record without the written consent of the pupil.
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.
New Isolated Time Out and Physical Restraint regulations were passed on an emergency basis through the Illinois register. The new regulations, 23 Ill. Admin Code Sections 1.280 and 1.285, can be found at http://www.ilga.gov/commission/jcar/admincode/023/02300001sections.html.
The Illinois Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Lebron v. Gottlieb Memorial Hospital (Case Nos. 105741 and 105745), a case which is attempting to void the Illinois Tort Reform Statute which which caps medical malpratice lawsuit awards. The 2005 statute limited monetory damage awards for plaintiffs’ “pain and suffering” to $500,000 against doctors and $1 million against hospitals. Last year, an Illinois trial court ruled that the Tort Reform law violated the separation of powers clause by allowing the Illinois legislature to restrict deliberations by judges and juries.
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.
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
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.
The Illinois minimum wage increase takes effect July 1, 2008, increasing the minimum wage from $7.50/hour to $7.75/hour.
Proposed HB 4536 passed both houses and is awaiting the Governor’s signature, and will amend the Downstate Teacher Article of the Illinois Pension Code, allowing teachers to return from retirement to teach in subject shortage areas without impairing their retirement status or annuities.
New legislation (HB 1007) has been introduced which would allow individuals currently holding a valid school service personnel certificate to receive a 5-year renewal of their certificate upon completion of 80 hours of continuing professional development.
Two newly proposed Illinois bills, SB 2689 and SB 2689, would benefit educational support personnel and teachers if approved by both houses. The first, SB 2689, would require school districts to allow school personnel to accrue up to 240 days of sick leave at full pay. The second, SB 2689, would require that school districts grant tenure to a teacher after only two years (as opposed to four) if that teacher had been previously been granted tenure at another school district.
A new study, The Teaching Penalty – Teacher Pay Losing Ground, was released by the Economic Policy Institute, which indicated that teachers’ salaries across the country over the last decade are increasingly lower than other occupations requiring similar education and skills. Illinois’ teachers specifically were, on average, found to be earning just 76% of other comparable professions.
New legislation (HB 4448) has been introduced, which would provide for the public release of profiles of professionals falling under the Medical Practice Act of 1987 (namely physicians), including information relating to criminal charges, administrative disciplinary actions and hospital privilege revocations.
New legislation (HB 1509) went into effect on January 1, 2008 which will now allows employees to commence civil actions in a circuit court based on violations of the Illinois Human Rights Act. Previously, these complaints were handled administratively by the institution. However, with the new addition to the Act, employees are now afforded full litigation rights, including depositions and the right to a jury trial, for alleged violations.
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.
A new public act (94-349) was created to amend the Hospital Licensing Requirements, 77 Ill. Admin. Code 250, prohibiting hospitals from forcing nurses to work overtime except for “unforeseen emergent circumstances.”
The Healthcare Worker Background Check Act (225 ILCS 46/15) is amended, requiring electronic fingerprint checking for all new hires to “health care facilities” (including all hospitals, nursing facilities, community living facility, home healthcare facility, hospice programs, respite care providers, early childhood intervention programs, EMS providers and other supported living programs) beginning on October 1, 2007.
A new public act (95-0449) was created to help public school teachers who teach in hard-to-staff schools or work in hard-to-staff positions to purchase residences within the school district. The act requires the Illinois Housing Development Authority to assist in these purchases, by offering a deferred payment, low-interest substitute mortgage loan.
An amendment to the school code (105 ILCS 5/26-6) allows for full-time teachers (regardless of gender) to take sick leave for birth, adoption, or placement for adoption.