Jackie Wernz

Jackie Wernz

Franczek Radelet P.C.

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U.S. Department of Education Issues New Guidelines On Collecting Student Data

This past July, the U.S. Department of Education released the Transparency Best Practices for Schools and Districts, a new set of guidelines created to improve relations between school districts and parents surrounding school...more

9/12/2014 - Data Collection Data Protection Department of Education PTAC Public Schools School Districts Students

Back to School OMA/FOIA Update: Public Access Counselor (PAC) Decisions this Summer

The summer is nearly behind us, and it has been a busy summer for the Public Access Counselor (PAC) office of the Illinois Attorney General, which issued five binding decisions since May on Open Meetings Act (OMA) and Freedom...more

8/26/2014 - Colleges Contractors FOIA Open Meetings Act Sexual Harassment Subcontractors Universities

DOJ and DOE Warning: School Enrollment Practices Must Not Discourage Enrollment of Immigrant Students

According to the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education, U.S. school districts are discouraging student enrollment based on their parents’ illegal immigrant status. The Departments issued guidance, a frequently asked...more

8/21/2014 - Citizenship Citizenship Status Discrimination Department of Education DOJ Final Guidance Immigrants Public Schools School Districts Student Enrollments

Race-Based Admissions and Assignment Policies Survive Another Legal Challenge in Fisher v. University of Texas

Last year, I blogged about the impact of a higher education Supreme Court diversity case, Fisher v. University of Texas on K-12 schools. As discussed in that blog, although the decision was a higher education decision, it...more

7/25/2014 - Admissions Colleges Diversity Public Schools Race Universities

Illinois Court of Appeals Reiterates Immunity For Statements in Public Meetings

The Second District Appellate Court recently highlighted the strong protection Illinois law provides for statements by executive officers and members of local government boards and councils, including school boards, during...more

6/20/2014

Supreme Court Declines to Review Case on Public School Graduations in Churches

The Supreme Court decided this week not to hear a recent case from the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals (which has jurisdiction over Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin) regarding public school graduation ceremonies in churches....more

6/20/2014 - Establishment Clause Public Schools SCOTUS

IIllinois Legislature Grants Recall Rights to “Grouping 2” Teachers with One Needs Improvement Evaluation Rating

On June 13, 2014, the Governor signed House Bill 5546 expanding the recall provisions of Senate Bill 7. The new legislation is effective July 1, 2014 and extends limited recall rights to honorably dismissed (“RIFed”) teachers...more

6/19/2014 - Education Reform Hiring & Firing New Legislation Performance Reviews Teachers

Iowa Case Highlights Often Overlooked Risk of Releasing Personal Emails in Public Records Requests

As a frequent advisor to school districts on freedom of information requests, the question I face most often is how a public body can protect a sensitive document from release. ...more

5/29/2014 - Appeals Confidential Information Email Policies Emails FOIA Public Entities Public Records Right to Privacy School Districts

Illinois Pension Reform Update: Judge Stays Implementation Of Pension Reform Law

On May 14, 2014, an Illinois Circuit Court Judge in Springfield issued an order staying the Pension Reform Law (Public Act 98-0599 – the “Act”) in its entirety and blocking the enforcement and administration of the Act until...more

5/19/2014 - Employee Benefits Pensions

Second Illinois Appellate Court Clarifies When Fee Provisions In Other Statutes Trump The FOIA’s Fee Provisions

Readers of our FR Alerts may recall that in late 2012, the Fifth District of the Illinois Appellate Court clarified the narrow circumstances in which a public body may charge fees greater than those in the Freedom of...more

5/6/2014 - Electronically Stored Information Fees FOIA Public Entities

California Case Allowing Denial Of FOIA Request For Public Communications On Private Electronic Devices Instructive For Illinois...

While California and Illinois do not share the same weather, they seem to be similar in at least one aspect: Their court decisions support denial of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for most communications by public...more

4/22/2014 - Electronic Communications Electronic Devices FOIA Public Officials Public Records

Illinois Appellate Court: School District Not Immune From Liability For Student Fall In “Cafetorium”

The Illinois Appellate Court recently determined that the fact that a school’s “Cafetorium” was used for parties and ceremonies for sports teams and school band, chorus, and drama program performances did not make the...more

4/17/2014 - Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act Recreation School Districts Slip and Fall

Illinois Appeals Court Finds School District Immune From Bullying Lawsuit

The Second District Illinois Court of Appeals recently issued an opinion in a case involving a school district’s alleged response to student-on-student bullying. The court in Malinski v. Grayslake Community High School...more

4/17/2014

Federal Court Says New York City Schools Can Prohibit “Religious Worship” In School Facilities

As reported in the New York Times, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that a school district could prohibit outside community groups from using school facilities for “religious services” without violating the...more

4/8/2014 - First Amendment Freedom of Religion Public Schools Religion

Impact On Employers And Schools Of Illinois Supreme Court’s Rejection Of Eavesdropping Law

Employers, schools, and other entities have long relied on the Illinois Eavesdropping Act to prohibit individuals from recording conversations, meetings, classes, and other activities without the consent of all participants....more

3/27/2014 - Audio Recording Eavesdropping Right to Privacy Surveillance

Courts Provide Guidance On FOIA Attorney’s Fee Provision And Creation Of Records

In two recent cases, Illinois courts provided guidance on when a party is a “prevailing party” under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for purposes of obtaining attorney’s fees and whether a public body is...more

3/24/2014 - Attorney's Fees FOIA

Natural Accumulation Doctrine Takes A Hit

Winter may almost be over, but a recent Illinois Appellate Court case makes clear that school districts should remain vigilant in preventing and warning against slippery floors. In February, an Illinois Appellate Court...more

3/20/2014 - Safety Precautions School Safety

How Lessons Learned From “Yik Yak” Can Help You Address The Next Novel Social Media Bullying Trend

The big news in education technology this week is Yik Yak, a free, anonymous social networking application that allows users to post comments that can be seen by others within a 5- to 10-mile radius. The app was intended for...more

3/11/2014 - Bullying Cyberbullying Mobile Apps Social Media

Public Bodies May Charge 15 Cents For Black And White Standard Sized Copies Of FOIA Documents Even If Actual Copying Cost Is Lower

The Illinois Appellate Court recently held that a public body may charge up to 15 cents for copying for each page of black and white, letter or legal sized documents responsive to a FOIA request, even if the actual cost of...more

2/27/2014 - Document Requests FOIA

Critical Limitations Soften Blow Of Seventh Circuit Decision Voiding Indiana School’s Boys Basketball Hair Length Rule

The Seventh Circuit’s decision, which is one of the first of its kind and one of the first decisions addressing hair lengths in schools in decades, has garnered media attention and warrants a close look at hair length...more

2/27/2014 - Basketball Educational Institutions School Sports

Streamlining Your Student Bullying, Intimidation, Harassment, And Violence Reporting And Investigation Policies

As we notified you earlier this school year in a FR Alert, the recently enacted Erin’s Law requires all school districts in Illinois enrolling students in grades seven through twelve to have a policy on teen dating violence....more

2/25/2014 - Bullying Harassment Hazing Students

What School Leaders Really Should Know About The Department Of Education’s Guidance On Discriminatory Discipline

Last week, the Department of Education issued a guidance package to help schools administer student discipline without discriminating against students on the basis of race, color, or national origin. The issue of...more

1/16/2014 - Dear Colleague Letter Department of Education Discipline Discrimination School Districts Students

Recent Appellate Court Decision Reminder Of Student Records Protections In Adversarial Proceedings

In a recent decision, the Illinois Appellate Court held that it is not an unfair labor practice for a school district to refuse to release school student records to a union in a grievance proceeding without a court order or...more

1/8/2014 - Public Schools Student Records Students Unions

Social Networking Password Laws In Effect For The New Year

Two new laws governing the ability of school authorities to obtain passwords to and information from personal social networking websites of employees and students go into effect on January 1, 2014. The definition of social...more

1/2/2014 - Employee Rights Passwords Right to Privacy Social Media Policy Social Networks

FOIA 2013 Wrap-Up – Summary Of Year End PAC Opinions

The Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) closed out the year by issuing two binding opinions. The following is a summary of key points from the opinions of which public bodies should be aware....more

12/31/2013 - Contractors FOIA

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