This week, the Illinois House and Senate continued their focus on committee action. Friday, March 26 is the deadline in both chambers for bills to pass out of their respective committees. The Senate returns for floor action on March 23 and the House returns for floor action on April 13.
Highlights of this week’s action include:
IFT initiatives advance from committees
HB 18 (Rep. Scherer, D-Decatur) extends evaluation cycles for educators rated Excellent and Proficient to three years.
HB 375 (Rep. Smith, D-Chicago) establishes a notice period of 60 days for adjunct faculty employment.
SB 1831 (Sen. Loughran Cappel, D-Plainfield) expands the options for showing growth as part of a teacher evaluation.
Legislation acted on by committees this week includes:
Sick leave use for adoption
The House Labor and Commerce Committee passed HB 816, legislation that broadens the ability to use sick leave for adoptions. The legislation would allow teachers and other employees to use up to 30 days of paid sick leave for adoption or placement for adoption.
Uses of time outs and restraints in school settings
HB 219, sponsored by Rep. Carroll (D-Northbrook), passed 20-3 out of the House Curriculum Committee. Among the provisions of the bill are changes concerning a school board's use of time out and physical restraint, including providing that isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint may be used only under certain circumstances.
Inclusive curriculum – Asian American history
HB 376, sponsored by Rep. Gong Gershowitz (D-Glenview), requires every public elementary school and high school to include in its curriculum a unit of instruction studying the events of Asian American history and contains provisions governing this instruction. It also provides that the teaching of history of the United States shall include the study of the wrongful incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II and the heroic service of the 100th Infantry Battalion and the 442nd Regimental Combat Team of the United States Army during World War II.
Revised sex and health education
HB 1736, sponsored by Rep. Willis (D-Northlake), creates the “Responsible Education for Adolescent and Children Health (REACH) Act.” It makes changes to existing school code relating to policies around sexual abuse. The REACH Act sets forth comprehensive personal health and safety education requirements and requires the state board to post materials and resources for PreK -12 on their website. The bill also allows for parental notification and disclosure. Other similar proposals have been filed dealing with sexual education, Erin’s Law, and grooming; the IFT will continue to monitor these initiatives.
HB 41 (Rep. Stuart, D-Collinsville) provides that prior to the placement of a child in an out-of-state special education residential facility, the school district, Illinois placing agency, or court must refer (rather than offer) to the child or the child's parent or guardian the option to place the child in a special education residential facility located within Illinois that provides treatment and services comparable to those provided by the out-of-state facility. The bill requires the school district, Illinois placing agency, or court to review annually the placement of a child in an out-of-state special education residential facility and to refer (rather than offer) placement in a comparable facility located within Illinois. As amended, HB 41 passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
Removal of EdTPA requirement
HB 655 (Rep. Scherer, D-Decatur) removes the requirement that educator licensure candidates pass a teacher performance assessment. After an hour long debate, HB 655 failed to receive the required number of votes to pass the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 3-5-0.
School closure hearing
HB 1785 (Rep. DeLuca, D-Chicago Heights) provides that unless a school building is unsafe, unsanitary, or unfit for occupancy and notice has been served or notice is provided by a licensed entity able to determine the safety of a school building, the school board must hold at least three public hearings, the sole purpose of which shall be to discuss the decision to close a school building and to receive input from the community. The bill also provides that the notice of each public hearing that sets forth the time, date, place, and name or description of the school building that the board is considering closing must be provided at least 10 days prior to the hearing by publication on the board's Internet website. HB 1785 passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
Rural Education Advisory Council
HB 1819 (Rep. Scherer, D-Decatur) creates a Rural Education Advisory Council to have thoughtful dialogue concerning the needs, challenges, and opportunities of rural districts and to provide policy recommendations to the state. HB 1819 passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
Expanded short-term substitutes and creation of a new educator licensure
HB 1874 (Rep. Davis, D-East Hazel Crest) removes a provision limiting the issuance of Short-Term Substitute Teaching Licenses to June 30, 2023. The bill allows ISBE to issue a Short-Term Teaching License to an individual who holds a Professional Educator License to teach in a position, including in special education, for which the individual does not hold the necessary qualifications in those situations in which a school district's need for an individual who holds a Short-Term Teaching License is a result of the lack of teachers with the necessary content-area or grade-level endorsement who are available to fill a particular teaching position. It also sets forth the qualifications, requirements, and fee for the license. The IFT opposes HB 1874. It passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
NBCT on the State School Report Card
HB 2438 (Rep. Stuart, D-Collinsville) requires ISBE’s school report cards to include the number of teachers who are National Board Certified Teachers. HB 2438 passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
Withdrawal from Thornton Township trustee of schools
HB 2594 (Rep. Davis, D-East Hazel Crest) allows the school board of South Holland School District 151 to withdraw from the jurisdiction and authority of the trustees of schools of Thornton Township and the township treasurer, provided that the school board elects or appoints its own school treasurer. HB 2594 passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
Changes to school improvement days and student attendance calculations
HB 2778 (Rep. Burke, D-Oak Lawn) provides (with respect to the daily pupil attendance calculation) that instead of school improvement days with students in attendance a minimum of three clock hours, a school district may opt to have a school improvement day without students in attendance for up to four times in a given school year. The bill provides that each such day may be counted as a day of attendance, provided that a sufficient number of clock hours have been accumulated beyond the five clock hours per day that students would have been in session. This bill codifies the current practice in the Chicago Public Schools and is an initiative of CPS. It passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
Required school board oath removed
HB 2814 (Rep. Halbrook, R-Shelbyville) removes portions of a school board member's oath of office taken before taking seat on the board. It failed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 4-0-3.
Changes to lapsed educator license fees
HB 2828 (Rep. Caulkins, R-Decatur) provides for the reinstatement of a lapsed Professional Educator License upon the payment by the applicant of the lesser of a $100 penalty or a $10 penalty for each year the license has lapsed (rather than a $500 penalty). It passed the House Elementary & Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.
Mental health excused absences
SB1577 (Sen. Martwick, D-Chicago) provides that, with respect to the exceptions to the compulsory attendance requirement, absence for cause by illness shall include the mental or behavioral health of a student for up to five days for which the child need not provide a medical note, in which case the child shall be given the opportunity to make up any school work missed during the mental or behavioral health absence. The bill was approved on a vote of 15-0-0.
Shared administration bill advances
SB 1637 (Sen. Rezin, R-Morris) provides that a school board shall, upon passage of a referendum after submission of a petition signed by no less than 8% of the school district's voters in the last consolidated election, may, by resolution, enter into a joint agreement with other school boards to share the services of a superintendent or other administrator. It was approved on a vote of 14-0-0.