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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”