September 2013 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.
August 2013 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."
July 2013 The Illinois Council of School Attorneys published its most recent annual "Guide to Illinois Statutes Affecting Schools."
June 2013 Brooke Whitted has been elected to a second year as Vice Chair of the Illinois Community and Residential Services Authority (âCRSAâ). The CRSA, which if formerly called the âResidential Services Authority,â 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.
May 2013 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.
April 2013 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.
March 2013 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.
February 2013 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.
January 2013 WCT is proud to announce that Jennifer L. Hansen is now a partner in the firm.
December 2012 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.
November 2012 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.
October 2012 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.
September 2012 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.
August 2012 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.
July 2012 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.
June 2012 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.
May 2012 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.
April 2012 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."
March 2012 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).
February 2012 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.
January 2012 WCT associate attorney, Shermin S. Ali-Andani, has been appointed by Governor Pat Quinn to serve on the Illinois Muslim American Advisory Council's ("MAAC") Policy and Legislative Affairs Committee. The group will provide strategic direction to better integrate Muslim Americans in State policies and programs in areas including education, public safety, jobs, veteran's affairs, healthcare, and human services. For more information about the MAAC, please visit its website at http://www2.illinois.gov/gov/MAAC/Pages/default.aspx.
December 2011 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.
November 2011 A recent HB 605 was approved by the Senate and sent to the Governor for signature, making changes to the reporting requirements for school district report cards. The new bill requires districts to provide additional information, including curriculum and specific special education program information, student outcomes and progress and attendance information for students, teachers and administrators.
October 2011 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:
1) Remain in the plan with the current TRS benefits but pay a higher contribution rate,
2) Change to the "Tier II" plan and pay a lower contribution rate, or
3) Participate in a 401(k) type plan.
September 2011 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:
1) The addition of substance use disorders to the list of mental illnesses covered by the law,
2) Facilities to define "medical necessity" in accordance with criteria established by the American Society of Addiction Medicine,
3) Insurers to cover treatment for substance abuse disorders in a residential facility,
4) Prohibits non-quantitative treatment limitations that are not used on a comparable basis for medical surgical benefits,
5) The elimination of "lifetime limits" on mental health coverage,
6) The elimination of "annual limits" on mental health coverage, and
7) The eliminitation of a differentiated deductible for mental health services.
August 2011 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.
July 2011 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.
June 2011 Governor Quinn signed into law education reform bill SB 7. (See April 2011 entry below for more detailed information.)
May 2011 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.
April 2011 The Illinois Senate unanimously approved SB 630/7, an education reform bill that impacts teacher tenure, hiring and layoffs, as well as strike procedures and school board training. For detailed information, please see www.iasb.com/govrel/sb7analysis.pdf for more details regarding the bill.
March 2011 A new 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.
February 2011 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.
January 2011 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.
December 2010 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.
November 2010 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.
October 2010 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.
September 2010 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.
August 2010 WCT partner Brooke R. Whitted was appointed to the newly-created Illinois School Bullying Prevention Task Force. The Task Force was created by PA 96-0952 to explore the causes and consequences of bullying in schools, identify practices which reduce incidents of bullying, highlight training and technical assistance to school districts to effectively address bullying, and to evaluate the effectiveness of schools' current anti-bullying policies.
July 2010 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.
June 2010 Public Act 96-0903 was signed into law, establishing new requirements for principal certification, including more stringent standards for principal preparation programs.
May 2010 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.
April 2010 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.
March 2010 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.
February 2010 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.
January 2010 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.
December 2009 Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the creation of a National Board of Certification for Principals, a new credentialing program focused on the advanced development of school leaders which will set national, rigorous standards and assessments for school principals. The U.S. Department of Education will provide $1 million in funding for the initiative, along with other agencies including the Chicago Public Education Fund.
November 2009 The Illinois Association of School Boards announced during its annual conference that it intends to introduce legislation in Illinois forbidding public school employees from striking. The board proposes, instead, using alternatives to striking, including mediation and binding arbitration.
October 2009 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.
September 2009 A new Public Act , 96-0657, provides that a parent, independent educational evaluator, or other qualified, professional retained by the parent or child must be afforded reasonable access to the school and school personnel in order to evaluate the child and review the child's current and/or proposed educational program, placement or services.
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.
July 2009 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.
May 2009 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.
April 2009 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.
March 2009 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.
February 2009 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.
January 2009 The U.S. Department of Education issued the final regulations for the IDEA, effective January 1, 2009. These final regulations allow parents of students with disabilities to revoke consent for all special education services, and do not allow school districts to challenge the parents' withdrawal of consent using due process procedures. Please see our memo, Final Withdrawal of Consent Regulations Issued by US Department of Education, for more details.
December 2008 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.
November 2008 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.
October 2008 The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 was passed as part of the financial bailout package on October 3, 2008. Please see our alert for detailed information regarding the significance of this new Public Act.
September 2008 A special legislative session was called in Illinois this month in order "to consider measures aimed at increasing school funding, improving the school funding structure and eliminating any current inequities." As a result, the legislature has scheduled five public hearing dates to "give tax payers, education professionals, business and labor organizations, and civic groups a chance to have their say" regarding education funding reform. The hearings are scheduled for:
August 2008 HB 4252 was signed into law, requiring school district superintendents to disclose information about employees who were reported to DCFS regarding cases of an alleged abuse or neglected child to potential employers.
July 2008 The Illinois minimum wage increase takes effect July 1, 2008, increasing the minimum wage from $7.50/hour to $7.75/hour.
June 2008 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.
May 2008 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.
April 2008 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.
March 2008 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.
February 2008 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.
January 2008 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.
December 2007 The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a fact sheet on the application of federal anti-discrimination laws, which provides "best practices" recommendations regarding the use of employment tests and screening devices.
November 2007 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."
October 2007 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.
Sept. 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.
August 2007 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.
July 2007 The Illinois minimum wage increase takes effect July 1, 2007, increasing the minimum wage from $6.50/hour to $7.50/hour.