The following is a summary of the 2017 legislative changes affecting school districts. For more information regarding the school funding reforms contained in Senate Bill 1947, please click here for our Franczek Radelet alert. We are still evaluating the impact of this historic and fundamental change to school funding in Illinois. We are looking out for guidance from ISBE and working to provide you a more detailed analysis of the property tax referendum provision. Click here for a PDF of the entire summary or click the links below to review the specific topics. To discuss these changes in more detail, contact any Franczek Radelet education attorney.
School-Police Department Job Training Programs Public Act 100-0331 Effective January 1, 2018 Any high school in any district within a county with more than 175,000 residents may now establish one or more partnerships with a local police department, county sheriff’s office, or police training academy to establish a job training program for high school students. The program must be open to all students, regardless of prior academic history; however, the high school and its law enforcement partner may impose specific program requirements. Students who successfully complete such programs are eligible for college scholarships, and a separate scholarship fund is established by the bill.
Transgender Birth Certificate Changes Public Act 100-0360 Effective January 1, 2018 The bill amends the Vital Records Act and gives transgender and intersex persons the right to request a new birth certificate reflecting their gender identity, so long as the individual submits a declaration from a licensed health care professional stating that he or she has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition or the individual’s intersex condition. Parents of transgender students may begin submitting new birth certificates changing the sex and/or name of their student to align with that student’s gender identity.
College Entrance Exams During School Hours Public Act 100-0007 Effective Immediately State-administered college entrance exams must now be administered on a school day during regular student attendance hours.
Due Process – Special Education Public Act 100-0122 Effective Immediately When parties in a special education due process dispute agree not to use mediation, the parents challenging a student’s placement will now have 10 days after either party declines mediation to file request for a hearing in order to invoke the “stay put” provisions allowing a student to remain in his or her placement. The State Superintendent is also now required to revise the uniform notices every two years to reflect any changes to this law and its corresponding procedures.
Expulsion from Early Childhood Public Act 100-0105 Effective January 1, 2018 School districts with early childhood education programs must now take additional procedural steps before expelling a student. When persistent and serious challenging behaviors emerge, any program must document steps taken to ensure that the child can participate safely in the program, including observations of challenging behaviors, strategies for remediation and intervention plans to address the behaviors, and communication with the parent. The program must document its attempts to engage community resources to address behavior problems, including early intervention agencies, child mental health consultants, and the child’s health care provider. After exhausting these interventions, if the school administration or program determines expulsion is still necessary for the well-being of the student and his or her peers, the program must create a transition plan for the transfer with the parent or legal guardian’s permission. Schools may temporarily remove students without completing these steps if there is a serious safety threat to the child or others. Finally, beginning July 1, 2018, early childhood programs must report data regarding their student populations, including the number of planned transitions to another program (i.e., expulsions), and temporary removals for safety reasons during the year.
Anti-Bullying Resources Public Act 100-0137 Effective Immediately In addition to posting their anti-bullying policy on the school district’s website, and in the student handbook, school districts must provide the policy “periodically throughout the school year” to students and faculty members. The bill does not define “periodically.” School districts must also inform parents, students, and school personnel which staff members are available to help with a bully or receive a report regarding bullying.
Average Daily Attendance Reporting Public Act 100-0147 Effective January 1, 2018 The bill requires school districts to include the average daily attendance figures for each month for each grade level served when submitting attendance figures for General State Aid purposes. Previously, school districts only needed to submit the average daily attendance for each month without reporting individual grade level figures. The bill takes effect January 1, 2018, and will apply to attendance reporting for the 2017-2018 school year.
Chronic Absenteeism Public Act 100-0156 Effective January 1, 2018 Beginning July 1, 2018, every school district, charter school, alternative school or any school receiving public funds must collect and review data regarding “chronic absences” and determine systems of support and resources needed to encourage daily attendance among chronically absent students and their families. Chronis absences is defined by the act as absences that total 10% or more of school days of the most recent academic school year, including absences with and without valid cause and out-of-school suspensions. The review must include an analysis of chronic absence data from each attendance center or campus of the school district. School districts are encouraged, but not required, to provide a system of support to students who are at risk of reaching or exceeding chronic absence levels.
Feminine Hygiene Products Public Act 100-0163 Effective January 1, 2018 School districts and charter schools must make feminine hygiene products available in any school building serving students in grades 6 through 12. “Feminine hygiene products” are defined by the bill as tampons and sanitary napkins for use in connection with menstrual cycles.
Immigration Public Act 100-0463 Effective Immediately Under the proposed Illinois TRUST Act, State and local law enforcement agencies are prohibited from stopping, arresting, detaining, or searching an individual solely on the basis of their immigration status unless they are presented with a warrant from a federal judge. The purpose is to explicitly prevent State and local law enforcement agencies from enforcing federal immigration law. Each law enforcement agency will be required to train its officers on compliance with the TRUST Act beginning in January of 2018.
Student Transcripts Public Act 100-0222 Effective Immediately State assessment scores that include college or career readiness scores must be removed from a student’s transcript if the student’s parent or legal guardian requests such removal. Previously, assessment scores were part of a student’s permanent record and were included in a student’s transcript.
Child Abuse Hotline Public Act 100-0413 Effective January 1, 2018 Under this bill, DCFS is authorized to work with school officials to distribute (and visibly display) appropriate materials in school buildings regarding the child abuse hotline, including methods of making a report. This amendment also applies to charters schools and Chicago Public Schools.
Accelerated Placement Program Public Act 100-0421 Effective Immediately Creates Accelerated Placement program that allows students to be placed in advanced classes that are normally reserved for older students or those in higher grades. School districts are required to develop a policy for the accelerated placement program that addresses student eligibility, the decision-making and assessment process. The State Board of Education is charged with adopting rules regarding data collection and the method of making the information available to the public.
School Records Senate Bill 1483 School Districts now have 10 days rather than 15 days to respond to a request by a parent to inspect or copy their student's school records. School Districts may extend the time to respond by 5 days if certain extenuating factors are present, such as a high volume of records were requested or the records are located at another site. The requestor and the School District may also agree in writing on a timeline to make the records available.
Concussions Public Act 100-0309 Effective September 1, 2017 The provisions of the School Code pertaining to concussions are amended to include physician assistants and advanced practice nurses among individuals who can evaluate students who are believed to have sustained a concussion during interscholastic athletic competitions. Additionally, concussion oversight teams may be composed of only one individual who need not be a licensed healthcare professional (but must not be a coach). Further, all individual serving on that oversight team are required to receive concussion-related training periodically. These provisions function to provide school districts with more flexibility in administering the required post-concussion protocols for student athletes.
Student Data Privacy Public Act 100-0315 Effective Immediately This bill establishes the Student Online Personal Protection Act, which prohibits operators of websites and applications used for K-12 educational purposes from using data gathered from users’ activity for anything but K-12 educational purposes. Specifically, operators of these websites and applications may not use gathered data for targeted advertising, amassing a profile about a student, selling or renting a student’s information, or disclosing certain other information. This bill also requires operators to protect student data through security procedures and by deleting any student data when requested by the school district.
Asthma Public Act 100-0238 Effective January 1, 2018 Asthma is now included in the standard school health examination. The Department of Public Health is required to create rules and regulations specifying the examination and procedures for school health exams that include asthma.
Breastfeeding Accommodations Public Act 100-0029 Effective January 1, 2018 School districts must now provide any lactating pupils with reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding or to expel breast milk and must be provided the opportunity to make up any work missed due to such use. The bill defines reasonable accommodations to include: (1) access to a private and secure room, other than a restroom, (2) permission to bring a breast pump and other equipment used to express breast milk, (3) access to a power source for a breast pump and related equipment, and (4) access to a place to store breast milk safely. The school must also provide the pupil with a “reasonable amount of time” to accommodate her needs. Notably, a school district does not need to designate a particular room or create accommodations for lactating students unless and until a student actually needs to breast feed or express breast milk. Moreover, a school district need not necessarily construct or modify existing structures or facilities. A pupil may be penalized as a result of her use, during the school day, of the reasonable accommodations. A student may file a complaint of noncompliance school shall implement the grievance procedure.
Career and Technical Educator Endorsement Public Act 100-0008 Effective Immediately A career and technical educator (CTE) endorsement on an Educator License with Stipulations may be issued to an applicant who has a minimum of 60 semester hours of coursework from a regionally accredited institution of higher education or an accredited trade and technical institution and has a minimum of 2,000 hours of experience outside of education in each area to be taught. The bill also removes previous restrictions on a provisional CTE endorsement, including the restriction that a provisional endorsement could only be renewed one time.
Performance Evaluation Advisory Council Public Act 100-0211 Effective Immediately Under the proposed bill, the State Superintendent will be responsible for convening the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC), which is responsible for implementing standards for school districts to measure teachers’ and principals’ performance. The PEAC will also be required to advise the State Board of Education of ongoing implementation of performance evaluations. PEAC meets quarterly but will also be able to meet at the request of the Chairperson of PEAC.
Pension Code Public Act 100-0411 Effective Immediately Vehicle allowances are removed from the definition of “earnings” under the Pension Code for all employees. Additionally, any increases in earnings resulting from unused vacation time made in the final three months of the final rate of earnings period are excluded from required payments to the pension fund.
Principal Endorsement – Sunset Removal Public Act 100-0267 Effective Immediately The bill removes a sunset provision from the principal endorsement provisions of the School Code. Currently, a principal endorsement can be affixed to an educator license of a person who has, among other qualifications, at least four (4) total years of experience working in the capacity of school support personnel but only until June 30, 2021. The bill strikes that sunset provision. If signed, the bill takes effect immediately.
Educator License Renewal House Bill 655 The bill makes a minor change to professional educator licensing provisions of the School Code. Specifically, the State Board of Education will have to e-mail any license holder a notification that his or her license is scheduled to lapse no more than 6 months before the license actually lapses.
IMRF Pension Credit Purchases Public Act 100-0148 Effective Immediately The bill amends the provisions of the Pension Code regarding application and payment for IMRF service credits. The Illinois Pension Code allows an employee to apply for and purchase previous service credits to increase his or her pension benefits after retirement. Under the bill, payments made to establish certain service credits must be received by IMRF while the applicant is an active participant in the Fund or a reciprocal retirement system, but an applicant may make one payment after termination of active participation in the Fund or a reciprocal retirement system.
Optional Tier 3 Hybrid Retirement Plan Public Act 100-0023 Effective Immediately Eligible Tier 2 members of TRS and SERS may opt into a new retirement plan which includes both a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan, and a traditional defined benefit pension. The Act provides certain incentives for Tier 2 members to opt into the new, hybrid “Tier 3” plan. For more information on these changes and employee eligibility, see the “Frequently Asked Questions” document at the end of this article.
Business & Finance
School District Boundary Changes Public Act 100-0374 Effective Immediately The bill aims to provide flexibility and efficiency in the detachment and dissolution of school districts, including creation of a local hearing panel and a process for petitioning for boundary changes.
Property Tax Appeal Board Public Act 100-0216 Effective Immediately This bill proposes that Taxpayers can file an appeal directly with the Property Tax Appeal Board (PTAB) if a decision rendering a lower assessment is issued after the deadline for filing appeals has passed. In addition to appeals for the current general assessment period, the bill allows Taxpayers to combine multiple-year appeals within the same assessment period. Currently, Taxpayers must appeal their assessment separately every year.
Use of School Facilities for Memorial Services Public Act 100-0028 Effective Immediately A school district may use school facilities to host memorial services for a community member and treat the partial day of instruction as a full day of attendance for purposes of General State Aid (GSA) claims. A district may utilize up to two days per school year for memorial services, and for GSA purposes, treat them the same as a school closure day for adverse weather under certain conditions.
Homeless Child Assistance Public Act 100-0332 Effective Immediately School districts may use transportation funds to provide financial assistance when a child is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. In such circumstances, the school district may provide rental and mortgage assistance to allow the parent or guardian to remain in their living situation or obtain a new living situation, or provide financial assistance for unpaid bills, loans and other debts. School districts must first attempt to provide assistance through a homeless assistance agency operating under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Additionally, prior to providing financial assistance, the school district and the parents or guardian must develop a housing plan in writing.
Home Schooling & School Buses Public Act 100-0443 Effective Immediately Physician assistants and advanced practice nurses are now able to certify that a student is medically unable to attend regular classroom instruction and is eligible for home or hospital instruction. Additionally, under this bill, private schools are exempt from mandatory bus evacuation drills if the private school can assure the State Board of Education that none of the private school’s pupils will utilize any bus transportation for that school year.
School Bus Activity Public Act 100-0241 Effective January 1, 2018 School buses that are operated by public or private schools and are used to transport students for school related extra-curricular activities must comply with the school bus driver permit requirements (e.g. maintain a valid school bus driver permit or be supervised by a person who has held such a permit for at least a year), the minimum liability insurance requirements (e.g. carry a minimum of liability insurance in the amount of $2,000,000), and all other special requirements pertaining to school buses as specified in the School Code. Meeting these requirements will also allow these school buses to transport non-student passengers for non-school related events.
Boards of Education
School Social Worker Qualifications & Services Public Act 100-0356 Effective Immediately The bill gives school boards the authority to employ school social workers who: (1) have graduated with a master’s degree or higher from an accredited graduate school, (2) hold a Professional Education License with a support personnel endorsement for social work under Section 21B-25 of the School Code, and (3) have other qualifications as required by ISBE. The bill makes clear that only employees meeting those qualifications may be referred to as “social workers.” Social workers can provide individual and group services to students, as well as administrators and teachers, consistent with their qualifications. A school board may employ as many social workers as necessary, and the bill specifically references the national recommended ratio of 250 students per school social worker. However, social workers may not provide such services outside their employment to students in the district.
Changes to State, District and School Report Cards House Bill 2461 The annual State Report Cards for school districts issued by ISBE must now include demographic information concerning gifted education and advanced academic programs. Specifically, ISBE must collect and report the ethnic and racial background of students enrolled in gifted programs, the percentage classified as low income, and the number and percentage of students in gifted programs who receive instruction from a teacher who holds a gifted education endorsement.
Withdrawal from Special Education Agreement Public Act 100-0066 Effective Immediately The process by which a school district withdraws from a joint special education agreement is amended to include an appeal of disapproval decisions to the trustees of schools of the township that has jurisdiction and authority over the withdrawing district or, if a withdrawing district is not under the jurisdiction and authority of the trustees of schools of a township, to a hearing panel established by the chief administrative officer of the intermediate service center having jurisdiction over the withdrawing district (instead of appealing to the respective intermediate service center).
Dual Enrollment for Vocational Academy Public Act 100-0133 Effective January 1, 2018 Any school board with a high school must inform all of its 11th and 12th grade students of dual enrollment and dual credit opportunities at public community colleges for qualified students. The bill does not specify how the school board must notify students. The bill takes effect on January 1, 2018.
School Report Cards Public Act 100-0227 Effective Immediately School report cards must now include the total and per pupil normal cost amount of State contributions to TRS in the prior fiscal year for that school's employees. TRS is responsible for reporting this information to the State Board of Education (ISBE).
School Report Cards Public Act 100-0448 Effective July 1, 2019 The State Board of Education is now required to include the average daily attendance of students subject to compulsory attendance in the school district report card. The school district report card shall also include the average daily attendance of students who have individualized education programs and students who have 504 plans that provide special education services.