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IFT Legislative Highlights for the Week of March 1

The Illinois House began committee work this week. Several important education bills were heard in the various House committees (see below). A few Senate committees also met, but no key education bills were considered. Both chambers will continue with committee hearings over the next several weeks.

Here are highlights of bill action for the week of March 1:

Family leave for part time educational employees

HB 12 (Rep. Costa Howard, D-Lombard) would grant family and medical leave to an employee of a school district, public university, or community college district who has been employed for at least 12 months and who has worked at least 1,000 hours in the previous 12-month period. The bill passed out of the House Labor and Commerce committee.

Notification to parents/guardians of student misconduct

HB 15, introduced by Rep. Tarver (D-Chicago), passed committee. This bill requires large school districts (over 275,000 students) to notify parents of a student who commits an act of misconduct and to notify the parents of other students if they are victims of the misconduct. Notification must be made within 24 hours of the act of misconduct. Copies of the disciplinary report must be made available to parents or guardians of the student responsible for the misconduct.

Longer evaluation cycles for teachers rated Excellent and Proficient

HB 18 (Rep. Scherer, D-Decatur) would lengthen the amount of time that tenured teachers who have previously received a performance rating of "Excellent" or "Proficient" at least once in the course of the three school years is evaluated. The impetus of the bill is not to lower standards, but rather to lessen the paperwork burden on teachers and administrators and create an environment that allows more effective feedback on professional teaching practice. The bill passed the House Elementary and Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools committee by a vote of 9-1-0. HB 18 is an IFT initiative.

School district waivers to allow retirees to substitute without impairing annuity

HB 21 (Rep. Scherer, D-Decatur) creates a new waiver program for districts to seek from TRS should they want a retired teacher to act as a substitute without impairing their annuity. The bill passed the House Personnel and Pensions Committee by a vote of 8-0-0.

Bill addresses student “sexting”

HB 24, sponsored by Rep. West (D-Rockford), passed committee. It defines “sexting” and requires that sex education course material and instruction in grades 6 - 12 must include an age-appropriate discussion on sexting. Discussions on sexting must include an exploration of: possible consequences of sexting; the identification of situations in which bullying or harassment result from sexting; the possible long-term consequences of sexting; the importance of using the internet safely; the identification of individuals in the school or community who may be contacted for assistance with issues, concerns, or problems; and the development of strategies for resisting peer pressure and communicating in a positive manner.

Internet accessibility for students with disabilities

HB 26, Rep. Mah (D-Chicago), passed committee. The bill ensures that any online curriculum purchased by a school or district is readily available to students with disabilities. Online curriculum must comply with Level AA of the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Special education students may finish out the academic year

HB 40, Rep. Hurley (D-Chicago), passed committee by a vote of 14-1-0. The bill allows a student whose 22nd birthday occurs during the school year to complete the academic year. In current statute, special education students are eligible for services until they reach their 22nd birthday.

Anaphylactic Policy Act is introduced

HB 102 was introduced by Rep. Carroll (D-Northbrook). It creates the Childhood Anaphylactic Policy Act, which requires the Department of Public Health, in consultation with the State Board of Education and the Department of Children and Family Services, to establish anaphylactic policies for school districts and day care centers. The bill passed committee.

Equitable access to menstrual hygiene products for students

HB 156 (Rep. Barbara Hernandez, D-Aurora) provides that a school district shall make menstrual (rather than feminine) hygiene products available, at no cost to students, in each bathroom of every school building. The bill passed the House Elementary and Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools committee by a vote of 5-3-0.

PE activity exemption for religious fasting

HB 160 (Rep. Didech, D-Buffalo Grove) provides that a pupil shall be excused from engaging in a physical education course during a period of religious fasting if the pupil's parent or guardian notifies the school principal in writing that the pupil is participating in religious fasting. The bill passed the House Elementary and Secondary Education: Admin, Licensing & Charter Schools committee by a vote of 9-1-0.

Religious holiday absences allowed

HB 169, sponsored by Rep. Didech (D-Buffalo Grove), allows a child to be absent from a public school because of religious reasons, including the observance of a religious holiday or participation in religious instruction. It requires that the district superintendent develop and distribute to schools appropriate procedures with regard to an absence. The bill passed committee.


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