On Monday, June 13, 2011, Governor Quinn signed into law Senate Bill 7, the sweeping education reform bill that is the product of months of negotiations between a broad group of stakeholders that included representatives from both management and labor. The Governor also signed House Bill 1197, a trailer bill to Senate Bill 7. Effective immediately, the reform legislation significantly amends the Illinois School Code and the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (IELRA). It dramatically impacts teacher tenure, layoff and dismissal policies, and how impasses in collective bargaining are resolved. Included in the legislation are the following significant reforms applicable to all Illinois school districts outside of Chicago. However, as noted below, some of the provisions also or solely apply to Chicago Public Schools (CPS).
Time frame for probationary period re-defined
Under the legislation, the teacher probationary period remains at four school terms. It requires that a teacher actually teach or be otherwise present and participating in the district’s educational program for 120 days or more in a given school term in order for that school term to be counted toward attaining tenure. The days a teacher is absent on a leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) will be counted as days of teaching or participating in the district’s educational program for tenure purposes. The requirement that a first year probationary teacher begin his or her full-time employment before November 1 has been removed. This new definition of “school term” is effective immediately.
Teachers required to earn strong performance reviews prior to earning tenure
The new law requires a specified number of “proficient” or “excellent” performance evaluation ratings in order for a teacher to attain tenure.
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