Effective January 1, 2014: Amendments To Tenure, RIF And Impasse Bargaining Provisions Of Senate Bill 7

On January 1, 2014, legislative changes made by Public Act 98-0513 (Act) to the tenure, layoff and impasse bargaining process originally set out in Senate Bill 7 will go into effect.

  • Tenure Portability. The Act amends Section 24-11 of the School Code to require teachers seeking to attain tenure within two consecutive school terms to follow certain procedures when providing proof of their two most recent overall evaluations of “proficient” or higher from their prior school district. Specifically, for a teacher to attain tenure on an accelerated basis, the teacher must provide an official copy of his or her two most recent overall evaluations from the prior school district to the new school district within 60 days from the teacher’s first day of service with the new school district. If the prior school district fails to provide the evaluations, additional procedures apply.
  • Part-time Teachers. The Act makes several changes to the reduction-in-force (RIF) procedures under Section 24-12, including requiring non-tenured part-time teachers to be placed in RIF Grouping 1, and providing a definition for teachers employed on a “part-time basis.” Prior to the Act, Section 24-12 was silent with regard to part-time teachers.
  • Annual Seniority List. The Act requires boards of education, in consultation with the union, to annually establish a list showing the length of continuing service of each teacher qualified to hold any of the positions listed on the sequence of honorable dismissal, and to provide copies of such list to the union at least 75 days before the end of the school term. If the district has established an alternative method of determining a sequence of dismissal as permitted under Section 24-12 of the School Code, a list must be made in accordance with that alternative method and also provided to the union at least 75 days before the end of the school term. This requirement is in addition to the requirement that a district provide the sequence of honorable dismissal list to the union at least 75 days before the end of the school term.
  • Annual RIF Joint Committee Meetings. The Act clarifies that the RIF Joint Committee must be established and meet on an annual basis, with the first meeting required to be held no later than December 1 of each school year. Prior to this change, Section 24-12 only stated that the Joint Committee must be established and meet by December 1, 2011. The RIF Joint Committee now must be established and meet every year but only to address the limited number of topics over which the Joint Committee has authority.
  • Impasse Bargaining Procedures. The Act changes the impasse procedures under the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA) that must be followed before employees may engage in a strike. Instead of “declaring an impasse” anytime 15 days after mediation has commenced, the parties and the mediator may now initiate “the public posting process” anytime 15 days after mediation has commenced. Initiation of the public posting process must be filed in writing with the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board (IELRB), and copies must be submitted to the parties on the same day the initiation is filed. The amended IELRA also requires each party to submit their most recent offers, rather than their final offers, within seven days after the initiation of the public posting process to the mediator, the IELRB, and the other party. It also clarifies that on the same day the IELRB posts the offers on its website, the school district must notify all news media (that have filed an annual request for notices from the school district pursuant to Section 2.02 of the Open Meetings Act) that the offers are available on the IELRB’s website. The Act further requires the offers to remain on the IELRB’s website until the parties have reached and ratified an agreement. In addition to other requirements, employees may not engage in a strike until mediation has been used without success and at least 14 days have elapsed after the IELRB has made the parties’ offers public. The law still requires the exclusive bargaining representative to provide the ten-day notice of intent to strike.
  • ISBE Waivers. Finally, the Act amends Section 2-3.25g of the School Code to prohibit school districts from seeking a waiver or a modification of the mandate regarding the requirements that student performance data be a significant factor in teacher or principal evaluations or that teachers and principals be rated using the four categories of excellent, proficient, needs improvement, or unsatisfactory. The Act further states that on September 1, 2014, any such previously authorized waiver or modification from such requirements will terminate. Prior to the Act, districts were not prohibited from seeking such waivers until on or after the district’s PERA implementation date, which for most districts is September 1, 2016.

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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