Over the course of the past several weeks, Governor Quinn has signed numerous bills affecting school districts into law. Below is a summary of the legislative changes that every school district should know about. To discuss these changes in more detail, please contact any Franczek Radelet education attorney.

Student Health Issues

Self-Administration of Medication – Asthma and Epinephrine

Public Act 96-1460

Effective Date August 20, 2010

The School Code provision allowing for the self-administration of medication has been amended with regard to asthma inhalers and epinephrine auto-injectors. The definition of self-administration now includes the students’ ability to carry as well as use prescribed asthma medication. Schools must allow students to self-administer asthma medications so long as the parents or guardians of a student provide written authorization and the prescription label containing dosage and usage information. Schools must also allow students to self-administer epinephrine if the students’ physician, physician assistant or advanced practice registered nurse provides written authorization and a written statement containing information on the use of the epinephrine auto-injector.

Automatic External Defibrillators (AED)

Public Act 96-1268

Effective Date January 1, 2011

Section 15(b-10) of the Physical Fitness Facility Medical Emergency Preparedness Act has required the person responsible for supervising an activity at an outdoor physical fitness facility to ensure that an automatic external defibrillator (AED) is available during the time the activity is occurring at the outdoor facility if there is no building to house an AED within 300 feet of the outdoor facility. P.A. 096-1268 amends the Act by removing this requirement. In the case of an outdoor physical fitness facility, the AED must be housed in a building, if any, that is within 300 feet of the outdoor facility. However, because the amended Act, effective January 1, 2011, will be silent regarding situations in which there is no building within 300 feet of the outdoor facility, there will no longer be a requirement to ensure an AED is available during the physical fitness activities in the outdoor facility. A preliminary review of the legislative history for P.A. 096-1268 indicates that legislators intended to relax some of the AED requirements on public bodies as it relates to outdoor facilities. Thus, under the amended Act where a physical fitness activity is held beyond 300 feet of a building, school districts will not be required to have an AED or a trained user available.

Student Issues

Admittance to First Grade

Public Act 96-0864

Effective January 21, 2010

Previously, any child who attained the age of 5 years on or before September 1 could attend school upon the commencement of the term. The new provision added by this amendment provides that, based upon an assessment of childrens readiness, children who have attended a non-public preschool and continued their education at that school through kindergarten, were taught in kindergarten by an appropriately certified teacher, and who will attain the age of 6 years on or before December 31 may attend first grade upon commencement of the school term. The bill also establishes the Gateways to Opportunity program, subject to appropriation, to certify early childhood educators.

Transitional Needs of Students from Military Families

 Public Act 96-0953

Effective Date June 28, 2010

The Educational Opportunity for Military Children Act facilitates, among other things, the timely enrollment, placement and graduation of children of military families. The Act provides that a student, who is the child of active duty military personnel placed with a non-custodial parent and who must attend a non-resident school district as a result of the placement, may not be charged tuition. View the FR Alert here.

Out-of-State Transfer Students

 Public Act 96-0953

Effective Date June 28, 2010

As part of the changes brought about by the Educational Opportunity for Military Children Act, additional changes were made to the School Code. An out-of-state transfer student, who does not have proof of having a health examination or immunizations by October 15 or other date established by the school district, is now permitted to attend classes only if the student provides proof that an appointment for the required vaccinations has been scheduled with a party authorized to submit proof of the required vaccinations. The Illinois School Student Records Act was also amended to permit out-of-state transfer students, including children of military personnel that transfer into Illinois, to use unofficial transcripts for admission to a school until official transcripts are obtained from the previous school district. View the FR Alert here.

Education for Homeless Children

Public Act 96-1229

Effective Date January 1, 2011

The Education for Homeless Children and Youth Act establishes a State grant program to support school districts in the enrollment, attendance and success of homeless children and youth. The grant program parallels and supplements, but will operate independently of, the federal grant program under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, by allowing ISBE to award grants for activities allowed under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act for terms not to exceed 3 years, subject to an annual appropriation.

Curriculum

Instructional Mandates Task Force

Public Act 96-1374

Effective Date July 29, 2010

A task force has been established to study the propriety of existing instructional mandates, and a moratorium has been implemented on the passage of new instructional mandates until one year after the task force has issued a report of its findings. The uncompensated Instructional Mandates Task Force will be composed of members including superintendents, a principal, and representatives of a school board association, teachers unions and a parent/teacher organization, among others. The Task Force will explore and examine all current instructional mandates and will make recommendations regarding issues such as the propriety of existing mandates, the imposition of future mandates and waivers of mandates. Franczek Radelet partner Darcy L. Kriha and Township High School District 214 ( Arlington Heights) Superintendent Dr. David R. Schuler worked together to draft this legislation. View the FR Alert here.

Unfunded Mandates

Public Act 96-1441

Effective Date August 20, 2010

A new section has been added to the School Code that eliminates a school district’s or private school’s obligation to comply with unfunded mandates that become effective after August 20, 2010, in either the School Code or ISBE regulations. If the mandates are partially funded, a school district may petition the regional superintendent for an exemption from the mandate and appeal a denial of the petition to the State Superintendent. The exemption does not apply to new mandates associated with the Race to the Top Grant.

Sex Education

Public Act 96-1082

 Effective Date July 16, 2010

The sex education instructional mandate has been expanded to require sex education courses to include course material and instruction that teach students about the dangers associated with drug and alcohol consumption during pregnancy.

Consumer Education Requirement

 Public Act 96-1061

Effective Date July 14, 2010

The former requirement that a consumer education proficiency test be administered to high school students has been removed from the School Code.

Discipline

Bullying Policies and Procedures

Public Act 96-0952

Effective Date June 28, 2010

The Prevent School Violence Act amends the School Code to prohibit bullying in schools, requires all schools to adopt policies on bullying, and allows schools to implement gang resistance training programs. “Bullying” is defined to mean any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or electronically, directed toward a student or students that has or can be reasonably predicted to (1) place the student or students in reasonable fear of harm; (2) cause a substantially detrimental effect on the students or students’ physical or mental health; (3) substantially interfere with the students or students’ academic performance; or (4) substantially interfere with the students or students’ ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges provided by a school. View the FR Alert here.

Sexting

Public Act 96-1087

Effective Date January 1, 2011

This amendment to the Juvenile Court Act prohibits a minor under the age of 18 from electronically distributing or disseminating any material that depicts another minor nude or engaged in any sexual or lewd conduct. Electronic transfers include transfers via computer or any other electronic communication device. A minor who violates the Act may be found to be in need of court supervision and may be ordered to obtain counseling or other supportive services or may be ordered to perform community service. View the FR Alert here.

Administration

Personnel Record Review – FOIA

Public Act 96-1212

Effective Date July 22, 2010

The Personnel Record Review Act now includes a provision allowing an employer who receives a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for records of a disciplinary report, letter of reprimand or other disciplinary action relating to any employee to provide written notification to the employee by first-class mail to the employees last known address or through electronic mail, if available. If notification is made, it should be mailed or sent on or before the day the information is divulged.

School District Renewable Energy Cooperatives

Public Act 96-0946

Effective Date June 25, 2010

Under the new School District Intergovernmental Cooperation Renewable Energy Act, school districts may now join together and construct facilities that generate electricity from renewable energy sources. The intergovernmental agreements authorized by this Act create separate units of local government that exist for the purpose of constructing and operating wind farms, solar farms or any other renewable energy production facility and then selling the energy produced by the facility. View the FR Alert here.

Guaranteed Energy Savings Contracts

Public Act 96-1197

Effective Date July 22, 2010

The Local Government Energy Conservation Act has been amended to provide that any bid solicitation for the purchase and installation of energy conservation measures must include an energy audit procured within the last three years and disclosure of any energy savings contractor that assisted in preparing the bid specifications. Additionally, contracts let or awarded must be provided to the administrators of the Capital Development Procurement Board. Finally, a new provision states that energy savings may include energy reduction and offsetting sources of renewable energy.

Cook County Regional Office of Education Abolished

Public Act 96-0893

Effective Date July 1, 2010

The Regional Office of Education for Suburban Cook County has been abolished and its duties and powers transferred to the West, North and South Cook Intermediate Service Centers.

Fresh Produce and Food

Public Act 96-1095

Effective Date January 1, 2011

An amendment to the Local Food, Farms, and Jobs Act requires the Department of Agriculture to develop, jointly with the Local Food, Farms, and Jobs council, a geo-coded electronic database to facilitate the purchase of fresh produce and food products by schools. After the Department of Agriculture secures the necessary state and federal funding, it will make the database available on its website. The database will include information that will allow schools to locate agricultural producers from whom they can buy such food and products, and allow agricultural producers to find schools that are interested in buying such products from them.

Nutrition and Physical Education

Public Act 96-1223

Effective Date July 23, 2010

An amendment to the Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act requires the State Board of Education to secure funding to establish and maintain a nutrition and physical activity best practices database. Once funding is secured, the State Board is to make the database readily accessible to all local school districts statewide. The database will include the results of any wellness-related fitness testing done by local school districts. It will also include information on successful programs and policies implemented by local school districts designed to improve nutrition and physical activity. The State Board is to encourage local school districts to submit information to the database, but no school district is required to submit information.

Electronic Textbooks

Public Act 96-1403

Effective Date July 29, 2010

Changes have been made throughout the School Code to provide for the use of electronic textbooks. In addition to authorizing their use, the changes provide for State funding and local rules concerning the care and preservation of electronic textbooks furnished at public expense.

Employment

Substitute Teachers – Criminal Background Checks/Registration

HB 5863

Governor Amendatory Veto – July 28, 2010

The Governor’s amendatory veto of this bill extends the effective date of the amendment until January 1, 2011, to accommodate issues related to implementation. The bill provides that substitute teachers in public schools must register with the regional superintendent of schools. As part of the registration, the substitute teacher must pay registration fees, authorize a criminal background check and pay for the cost of the criminal background check. The regional superintendent will issue a certificate that must be presented to all prospective employing school districts in the educational service region, and the employing school district must photocopy the certificate and keep a copy of the certificate with the employment records of the substitute teacher.

Student Teachers – Criminal Background Checks

Public Act 96-1452

Effective Date August 20, 2010

Student teachers must now authorize a fingerprint-based criminal history records check and checks of the Statewide Sex Offender Database and Statewide Child Murderer and Violent Offender Against Youth Database prior to participating in any field experiences in the public schools. The student teacher must pay for the check, and the results must be furnished to the higher education institution where the student teacher is enrolled and to the general superintendent of schools. The amendment also includes a clarification that information obtained through any criminal background check may be shared with the Department of State Police or the Statewide Sex Offender Database, or both.

Administrative Certificates

Public Act 96-0982

Effective Date January 1, 2011

Two years of experience as a chief school business official is now included as qualifying experience for the superintendent endorsement to an administrative certificate. The amendment also provides that six semester hours of internship in school business management is a precondition to an endorsement for a chief school business official.

Principal Certification

Public Act 96-0903

Effective Date July 1, 2010

Beginning July 1, 2014, the general administrative endorsement will no longer be issued. Instead, a principal endorsement may be earned after obtaining a master’s degree, four years of teaching experience and completion of a principal preparation program meeting the requirements specified by the statute.

Teacher Certification

Public Act 96-0862

Effective January 15, 2010

This change to the School Code provides for alternative pathways to teacher and administrator certification so that not-for-profit organizations that are not institutions of higher learning may provide certification programs.

Family Military Leave Act

Public Act 96-1417

Effective Date January 1, 2011

The Illinois Family Military Leave Act allows eligible employees who are the spouse or parent of a person called to military service to take unpaid leave during the family member’s military service. Under the law, employees who work for an employer with more than 50 employees may take up to 30 days of leave. Employees working for employers with 15 to 50 employees can take up to 15 days of family military leave. Presently, this leave is in addition to the family military leave available under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). A new law recently signed by Governor Quinn amends the Family Military Leave Act to extend leave to children and grandparents of service members as well as spouses or parents. However, if an employee also uses “qualifying exigency” leave under the FMLA, the amount of leave available under the Illinois law will be reduced by the number of days the employee takes under the FMLA. View the FR Alert here.

Suicide Prevention Training

Public Act 96-0951

Effective Date June 28, 2010

School social workers who work with pupils in grades 7 through 12 must now be trained to identify the warning signs of suicidal behavior in adolescents and teens and be taught intervention techniques. The frequency of the training is not prescribed. The Act also adds participating in or presenting at in-service training programs on suicide prevention to the list of professional development activities for teacher certification.

Human Rights Act

Public Act 96-1319

Effective Date July 27, 2010

The Illinois Human Rights Act has been amended to prohibit sexual harassment in primary and secondary school educational settings as well as in employment and higher education settings.

Employee Credit Privacy Act

Public Act 96-1426

Effective Date January 1, 2011

Employers, except for state or local government agencies that otherwise require the use of an employee’s or applicant’s credit history or credit report, are now prohibited from inquiring about or using an employee’s or prospective employee’s credit history as a basis for employment, recruitment, discharge or compensation.

Board of Education

Election Deadlines

Public Act 96-1008

Effective Date July 6, 2010

On July 6, 2010, the Election Code was amended, with changes to the deadlines for filing both referenda and nominating petitions. Petitions to place a public question on the ballot must now be filed by citizens 92 days before the election (no later than Monday, August 2, 2010). Resolutions to place a referenda question on the ballot must be adopted by the school board 79 days before the election (no later than Monday, August 16, 2010). Nominating petitions for school board and other elected positions must now be filed between 113 and 106 days before the consolidated election. Previously, nominating petitions had to be filed between 78 and 71 days in advance. As a result, instead of being filed in January 2011, nominating petitions for the school board elections on April 5, 2011, must now be filed between December 13 and December 20, 2010. View the FR Alert here.

School Board Conflict of Interest and Other Miscellaneous Changes

Public Act 96-0998

Effective Date July 2, 2010

Under amendments to the School Code, a school board member will no longer be deemed to have a conflict of interest if the board member is an employee of a company that does business with the school district, provided the board member has no financial interests in the business other than as an employee. Several technical changes were also made to the powers and duties of a school board. For example, a school treasurer may now pay recurring bills upon certification by the clerk or secretary of the school board; a school board may authorize the superintendent, principal, assistant principal or dean of students to suspend pupils; as well as other technical changes.

Open Meetings Act

Public Act 96-1473

Effective Date January 1, 2011

Starting January 1, 2011, public bodies must approve the minutes of their open meetings within 30 days after the meeting or at the public body’s second regular meeting after the meeting for which the minutes were taken, whichever is later. The approved open meeting minutes must be made available for public inspection or posted on the public body’s website within 10 days after approval of the minutes (rather than the current 7 day requirement). Finally, any person must be permitted an opportunity to speak at an open meeting subject to rules established and recorded by the public body.

Property Tax & Finance

Cook County Property Tax Due Date

Public Act 96-1297

Effective Date July 26, 2010

The due date for the first installment of the 2010 Cook County property tax bills has been moved to April 1, 2011 from March 1, 2011. It is important to be aware that as a result the distribution of the first installment of next year's property tax revenues will be later than usual.

Working Cash Fund Transfers

Public Act 96-1277

Effective Date July 26, 2010

This change in the Working Cash Fund section of the School Code validates transfers of abated funds from a school district’s working cash fund to any fund of the district most in need, provided that the district maintains a fund balance in the working cash fund equal to at least 0.05% of the equalized assessed value of the real property within the district.

Interfund Transfers – Life Safety Funds

Public Act 96-1474

Effective Date August 23, 2010

This amendment to the School Code provides that surplus life safety taxes and interest earnings may be transferred to the Operations and Maintenance Fund for building repair work through June 30, 2013. In order to make the transfer, a school board must adopt a resolution following a public hearing set by the school board or the president of the school board that is preceded by at least one published notice and a public hearing.

Interfund Transfers – Generally

Public Act 96-1201

Effective Date July 22, 2010

The time period during which a school district may make interfund transfers of money authorized by any provision or judicial interpretation of the School Code to the fund determined to be in most need has been extended until June 30, 2013.

Joint Investment

Public Act 96-0964

Effective Date July 2, 2010

The Local Government Debt Reform Act has been amended to allow school districts to authorize the treasurer to join with the treasurers of other governmental units for the purpose of jointly investing the funds of which the treasurer has custody.

Transitional Bilingual Education Expenditures

Public Act 96-1170

Effective Date January 1, 2011

This amendment to the School Code requires that at least 60 percent of transitional bilingual education funding received from the State must be used for the instructional costs of transitional bilingual education.

Funding for Preschool

Public Act 96-0944

Public Act 96-0948

Effective Date June 25, 2010

The language providing that after June 30, 2010, the State Board of Education would provide the primary source of funding for grants for preschool educational programs for the benefit of children who have been determined to be at risk of academic failure has been deleted. Instead, the current “Pre-School for All Children” program currently in place will continue beyond June 30, 2010, with no termination date. Funding for Gifted Programs Public Act 96-1152 Effective Date July 21, 2010 Beginning with the 2010-11 school year, entities are required to submit an application for gifted and talented program funds that includes a comprehensive plan showing the entity is capable of satisfying ISBEs requirements as well as the program elements currently in place. The funding may be approved pursuant to a request for proposals’ process run by ISBE if funds are made available for that purpose. An established professional organization in gifted education may now qualify as an entity that may submit a proposal to the State Board of Education for a grant.

Early Childhood Construction Grants

Public Act 96-1402

Effective Date July 29, 2010

Public school districts or other eligible entities must now provide local matching funds in an amount equal to 10 percent of the Early Childhood Construction grant. The amendments to the School Construction Law also allow the Capital Development Board to require that new or improved facilities be used for early childhood and other related programs for a period of at least 10 years.

Districts Deemed in Financial Difficulty

Public Act 96-1423

Effective Date August 3, 2010

The State Superintendent of Education may now require a school district to share financial information relevant to a proper investigation of the district’s financial condition. The Superintendent may then deliver appropriate State financial, technical and consulting services to the district if the district is determined to be likely to fail to fully meet any regularly scheduled, payroll-period obligations when due or any debt service payments when due, or both.

Transportation

Transportation Cost Reimbursements

Public Act 96-1264

 Effective Date January 1, 2011

The procedures for calculating State reimbursement for transportation costs will require ISBE to include the number of pupils enrolled in early education programs and the number of pupils eligible for reimbursement, if the pupils enrolled in the early education programs are transported at the same time as other eligible pupils.

School Bus Driver Licenses – Offenses Causing Disqualification

Public Act 96-1182

Effective Date July 22, 2010

An applicant for a CDL with a school bus driver endorsement or school bus driver permit may not apply for such a license if he or she has been convicted of committing or attempting to commit criminal offenses, not previously identified in this section of the Vehicle Code, ranging from murder-for-hire to cyberstalking. View the FR Alert here.

School Bus Driver Licenses - Applications

Public Act 96-0962

Effective Date July 2, 2010

This amendment to Section 6-106.1 of the Vehicle Code adds not having a conviction within the prior three years for aggravated reckless driving, driving while under the influence of alcohol, other drug or drugs, intoxicating compound or compounds or any combination thereof to the requirements for applying for a school bus driver permit. View the FR Alert here.

School Bus Radios/Cell Phones

Public Act 96-1066

Effective Date July 16, 2010

The Illinois Vehicle Code has been amended to permit bus drivers to use cellular radio telecommunication devices to communicate with school authorities about any issue relating to the operation of the school bus or the welfare and safety of any bus passenger. This amendment also requires a school bus to have, while the school bus driver is in possession of and operating a school bus, either an operating cellular radio telecommunication device or two-way radio and have either adjusted in a manner that will alert the bus driver of an incoming communication. View the FR Alert here.