2012 Legislative Update Summary of Changes in School Law

by Franczek Radelet P.C.
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[authors: Scott Metcalf and Brian Crowley]

The following is a summary of the 2012 legislative changes affecting school districts.  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.

Administration
Regional Offices of Education
Chronic Truant Definition
Student Immunization Data
Drivers’ Education
Swimming Pool Regulation
Imminent Threat – Information Sharing

Board of Education
Campaign Finance
Open Meetings Act

Curriculum
Mathematics Curriculum Models
CPR and AED Student Training
Commission For High School Graduation
   Achievement and Success

Eradicate Domestic Violence Task Force
Enhanced Physical Activity Task Force
Advisory Council On Bilingual Education Reporting

Employment
Teaching Certificate Renewal
Administrative Certification
Alternative Teaching Certification

Finance
First and Last Days of School
Property Tax Due Date
PTELL Amendment
Maximum Tax Rate
Property Tax Notices and Complaints

Special Education
Service Animal Access Act

Transportation
Multi-Function School Activity Buses
Bus Contract Bidding


Administration

REGIONAL OFFICES OF EDUCATION
Public Act P.A. 97-703
Effective Date: June 25, 2012

The minimum population requirement for a regional office of education has been raised from 43,000 people to 61,000. By July 1, 2012, there will be no more than 35 regions. Regions have until June 2013 to voluntarily consolidate with other regional offices to meet the new population requirements. If, before January 1, 2014, locally determined consolidation decisions result in more than 35 regions of population greater than 61,000 each, the ISBE, before June 1, 2014, will direct further consolidation, beginning with the region of lowest population, until 35 regions are achieved.

CHRONIC TRUANT DEFINITION
Public Act 97-975
Effective Date: August 17, 2012

The definition of “chronic truant” in the Juvenile Court Act is now the same as the definition in the School Code.

STUDENT IMMUNIZATION DATA
Public Act 97-910
Effective Date: January 1, 2013

School districts are now required to make publicly available, by December 1, of each year, the student immunization data that the district is required to submit to the ISBE each year.

DRIVERS' EDUCATION
Public Act 97-1025
Effective Date: January 1, 2013

Significant changes have been made regarding drivers’ education. Districts wishing to contract with a private company for drivers’ education services must now provide evidence that the commercial driver training school employs instructors who hold valid teaching certificates. The ISBE is required to adopt standards for drivers’ education and to annually report the approximate per capita drivers’ education cost for each school district. Drivers’ education vehicles used by public high schools are now required to undergo an annual safety inspection if the cars are over five years of age or have over 75,000 miles on the odometer. School districts are now required to post information about mandate waiver hearings on their websites and in the newspaper.

SWIMMING POOL REGULATION
Public Act 97-957
Effective Date: January 1, 2013

Several changes have been made with respect to the regulation of swimming pools. Such changes involve the qualifications of engineers and architects hired to plan swimming facilities, the definitions of inspections and alterations, and licensing and permit qualifications and fees.

IMMINENT THREAT - INFORMATION SHARING
Public Act 97-1104
Effective Date: January 1, 2013

Law enforcement can provide information to appropriate school officials if a student has committed certain infractions regarding drug laws, gun laws, or specific violent crimes if law enforcement believes that there is an imminent threat of physical harm to students, school personnel, or others who are present in the school or on school grounds based on the criminal act. The information provided shall consist of oral information only, and shall not become part of the student’s permanent record.

Board of Education

CAMPAIGN FINANCE
Public Act 97-766
Effective Date: July 6, 2012

This new law adds “independent expenditure committees” expending more than $3,000 per year to support or oppose public policy questions to organizations subject to campaign finance laws.

OPEN MEETINGS ACT
Public Act 97-827
Effective Date: January 1, 2013

The Open Meetings Act has been amended to require that the posted agenda sets forth the general subject matter of any resolution or ordinance that will be the subject of final action at the meeting. The public body conducting the meeting is further required to ensure that a copy of the agenda for the meeting is available for public review during the 48-hour period preceding the meeting. Posting of the notice on the public body’s website satisfies the continuous availability requirement. If the notice is not available for the full 48- hour period for reasons outside the control of the public body, any action taken at the meeting will not be invalidated.

Curriculum

MATHEMATICS CURRICULUM MODELS
Public Act 97-704
Effective Date: June 25, 2012

ISBE is now required to immediately coordinate the acquisition, adaptation, and development of middle and high school mathematics curriculum models to aid school districts and teachers in implementing standards for all students. The curriculum models must be completed by March 1, 2013. The curriculum models must then be made available to school districts, which may choose to adopt or adapt the models in lieu of developing their own curriculums.

CPR AND AED STUDENT TRAINING
Public Act 97-714
Effective Date: June 28, 2012

All students enrolled in grades 6 through 8 in public schools are now required to watch a training video on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

COMMISSION FOR HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION ACHIEVEMENT AND SUCCESS
Public Act 97-911
Effective Date: August 8, 2012

The bill creates the Commission for High School Graduation Achievement and Success to study the issue of high school graduation in Illinois. The legislation aims to increase high school graduation rates and ultimately improve the state’s workforce.

ERADICATE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TASK FORCE
Public Act 97-1037
Effective Date: August 20, 2012

The Eradicate Domestic Violence Task Force has been created to develop a statewide school curriculum for high school students aimed at preventing interpersonal, adolescent violence. The task force will evaluate the effectiveness and possibility of implementing the program statewide. Additional duties of the task force include proposing methods for training facilitators and school personnel on the curriculum, building partnerships with antiviolence organizations to help implement the program, evaluating the costs of such a program and proposing funding sources, and producing a report of policy and practices recommendations.

ENHANCED PHYSICAL EDUCATION TASK FORCE
Public 97-1102
Effective Date: August 27, 2012

The Enhanced Physical Education Task Force has been established to promote and make recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly by August 31, 2013, on enhanced physical education programs that can be integrated with a broader wellness strategy and health curriculum in elementary and secondary schools.

ADVISORY COUNCIL ON BILINGUAL EDUCATION REPORTING
Public Act 97-915
Effective Date: January 1, 2013

The Advisory Council on Bilingual Education is now required to submit a report to the State Superintendent of Education, the Governor, and the General Assembly no later than January 1, 2013. The report must address certain questions concerning the modification of bilingual education programs, including: whether and how bilingual education programs should be modified to be more flexible and achieve higher success rate among Hispanic students in the classroom and on State assessments; whether and how bilingual education programs should be modified to increase parental involvement including the use of parent academies; whether and how bilingual education programs should be modified to increase cultural competency through a cultural competency program among bilingual teaching staff; and whether and how the bilingual parent advisory committees within school districts can be supported in order to increase the opportunities for parents to effectively express their views concerning the planning, operation, and evaluation of bilingual education programs.

Employment

TEACHING CERTIFICATE RENEWAL
Public Act 97-682
Effective Date: May 8, 2012

In order to renew a teaching certificate that has lapsed and has not been renewed, one must pay all back fees and either (1) complete nine hours of coursework from an institution of higher education or (2) pay a $500 penalty. Until September 1, 2012, certificates that have lapsed only for the failure to pay a registration fee may be immediately reinstated only upon payment of all back fees.

ADMINISTRATIVE CERTIFICATION
Public Act P.A. 97-701
Effective Date: June 25, 2012

A candidate for an administrative certificate who has enrolled and began coursework in an approved ISBE program prior to August 1, 2011, and who successfully completes that program prior to January 1, 2013, may apply for the general administrative endorsement until January 1, 2013, without his or her two years of full-time teaching or school service personnel experience.

ALTERNATIVE TEACHING CERTIFICATION
Public Act 97-702
Effective Date: June 25, 2012

The deadline for enrolling in an alternative teacher certification program has been extended to September 1, 2013, and the deadline for completion to January 1, 2015. Charter schools have also been added as an institution recognized to offer a program.

Finance

FIRST AND LAST DAYS OF SCHOOL
Public Act 97-742
Effective Date: June 30, 2013

Effective June 30, 2013, the first and last days of the school year will no longer be counted as days of attendance if they are less than 5 hours, and the first day is preceded by a day or days of teacher institute workshops.

PROPERTY TAX DUE DATE
Public Act 97-944
Effective Date: August 10, 2012

All property taxes not paid by the installment “due date” specified on the tax bill, instead of the “installment date,” will be deemed delinquent.

PTELL AMENDMENT
Public Act 97-1087
Effective Date: August 24, 2012

The Property Tax Extension Limitation Law (PTELL) has been amended. It specifies that the approximate amount of the tax extendable, as stated on the referendum question submitted to impose a new or increased limiting rate, shall be calculated by multiplying $100,000 by (i) the percentage level of assessment prescribed for that property by statute, or by ordinance of the county board if applicable; (ii) the most recent final equalization factor certified to the county clerk by the Department of Revenue; and (iii) either the new rate or the amount by which the limiting rate is to be increased.

MAXIMUM TAX RATE
Public Act 97-1022
Effective Date: January 1, 2013

Newly consolidated districts under Article 11E are now allowed to access a maximum tax rate of 6.40% declining over five years until reaching a statutory maximum of 4.00%, if the combined rate of the districts prior to formation of the unit district is greater than 4.00% for educational purposes.

PROPERTY TAX NOTICES AND COMPLAINTS
Public Act 97-1054
Effective Date: January 1, 2013

Boards of review outside Cook County may now send notices of assessment changes to either the taxpayer or the attorney representing the taxpayer. The Cook County Board of Review may send notices of assessment changes by mail or by electronic mail. The Cook County Board of Review may also accept complaints signed with an electronic signature.

Special Education

SERVICE ANIMAL ACCESS ACT
Public Act 97-956
Effective Date: August 14, 2012

The Illinois Guide Dog Act has been amended to become the Service Animal Access Act. Service animals are defined as a dog or miniature horse trained or being trained as a hearing animal; a guide animal; an assistance animal; a seizure alert animal; a mobility animal; a psychiatric service animal; an autism service animal; or an animal trained for any other physical, mental, or intellectual disability. Service animals must be permitted to accompany a student with a disability at all school functions, whether in or outside the classroom.

Transportation

MULTI-FUNCTION SCHOOL ACTIVITY BUSES
Public Act 97-896
Effective Date: August 3, 2012

Multi-function school activity buses may be used to transport high school students for any curriculum-related activity except for transportation from home to school or from school to home. The bus must be operated by a holder of a school bus driver permit and is subject to certain provisions concerning contractual student transfer arrangements, contracts requiring school bus driver permits, liability insurance, and safety testing.

BUS CONTRACT BIDDING
Public Act 97-951
Effective Date: August 13, 2012

School districts are now allowed to select a bus contract for reasons other than lowest responsible bidder. Districts should now first consider school bus safety and comfort of pupils, stability of service, and any other factors set forth in the request for proposals regarding quality of service. Price is to be considered after these other factors. No cause of action shall lie against a school district for awarding a pupil transportation contract pursuant to these requirements, unless the cause of action is based on fraudulent conduct.

 

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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