Education

In June, Governor Pritzker signed The Decennial Committees on Local Government Efficiency Act into law (Public Act 102-1088). This new law applies to any unit of local government that levies taxes, with the specific exception of municipalities and counties. This broad sweeping law requires units of government to form a specialized committee by June 2023 for the purpose of studying the efficiencies of local government. These committees must meet at least three times, comply with the Open Meetings Act and requires an opportunity for public feedback at the conclusion of each meeting. The scope and breadth of their
Continue Reading New Law to Promote Local Government Efficiency

A recent ruling of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the City of Indianapolis’ motion to vacate a $1.24 million jury verdict against the City following a bar fight involving two off-duty police officers.

In Bohanon v. City of Indianapolis, No. 20-3125 (7th Cir. 2002), two off-duty police officers were drinking in a pub when they noticed another patron, Bradford Bohanon, get into an argument with the bartender. When the two officers intervened, a fight ensued and Bohanon was brutally beaten by the two officers in the parking lot. Bohanon sued the City of Indianapolis under 42 U.S.C.
Continue Reading Court Rules City Not Liable for Off-Duty Officers’ Actions Following Bar Fight

Tressler is proud to welcome Charles “Chuck” LeMoine to our General Defense and Litigation Practice Group. Chuck is known for litigating a wide range of civil matters and is a fierce advocate in the courtroom and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) venues. Chuck’s commercial litigation practice focuses on professional liability, insurance coverage, product liability, construction and contractor disputes, class and collective actions and business torts. He also has a depth of experience defending school districts, counties and municipalities. Chuck has appeared in state and federal courts on behalf of clients in claims arising from student fights, school bus accidents, sexual abuse, discrimination,
Continue Reading Charles LeMoine Joins Tressler’s General Defense and Litigation Practice Group

On July 18, 2022, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released its revised Case Processing Manual (CPM), which was last updated in August 2020. The CPM outlines the procedures OCR uses to investigate and resolve complaints under the civil rights laws it enforces, including Title IX, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The revised manual contains several noteworthy changes schools and colleges should be aware of, including the following highlighted below. 

Definition of “complaint” 

  • Defines “complaint” as “a written statement to the Department [of Education] alleging that


Continue Reading OCR Releases Revised Case Processing Manual with New Updates to Complaint Process

On July 19, 2022, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) released several guidance documents concerning the civil rights of students with disabilities specific to student discipline. The resources are aimed at minimizing exclusionary discipline and supporting the pandemic-related mental health needs of students, particularly those with disabilities.  With respect to schools providing training on the how to address disability-based behavior and implement the guidance, U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said, “we expect that districts utilize the federal American Rescue Plan dollars to build capacity, provide professional
Continue Reading OCR and OSERS Issue Guidance on IDEA and Section 504 Requirements for Addressing Disability-Based Student Behavior

The Fourth District Illinois Appellate Court recently heard a FOIA case pertaining to attorney fees, Martinez v. City of Springfield, 2022 IL App (4th) 210290.

Plaintiff, Freddy Martinez, filed a complaint against the City of Springfield and the Springfield Police Department (collectively, “Springfield”) asserting a violation of the Freedom of Information Act (the “FOIA”) 5 ILCS 140/1 et seq. Plaintiff sought a declaration that Springfield violated FOIA and requested an order mandating production of the requested records, attorney fees and civil penalties. Springfield subsequently produced the requested records to Plaintiff and moved for summary judgment on the complaint. The
Continue Reading Missing the FOIA Statutory Response Deadline Could Cost You 

Governor Pritzker recently signed two bills into law, expanding accessibility and flexibility within special education. The first, Public Act 102-0703 (House Bill 4365), allows IEP teams to place students at non-ISBE-approved facilities and the second, Public Act 102-1072 (House Bill 5214), requires school districts to notify parents of their right to an interpreter during various special education proceedings. Both new laws went into effect immediately. 

Placement

Public Act 102-0703 allows placement at non-ISBE approved facilities when ISBE provides an emergency and student-specific approval for the placement. To receive such approval, a school district must send a request to ISBE
Continue Reading Governor Pritzker Signs Two New Special Education Laws Regarding Placement and Interpretation Services

In the 6-3 ruling, the Supreme Court upheld an assistant football coach’s right to pray after football games. Kennedy v. Bremerton School Dist. 597 U.S. (2022). The case was filed by Joseph Kennedy, an assistant football coach at a Washington State high school. Kennedy’s contract was not renewed after he continued to pray after games at the 50-yard line despite being told not to by the school district in 2015. Kennedy argued that his free speech rights were violated and filed a lawsuit.

Lower courts mostly ruled in favor of the school district, which argued that Kennedy’s actions disregarded
Continue Reading School Districts Determine How to Move Forward in Light of the Supreme Court’s Recent Decision

Recently, in Staake v. Department of Corrections, 2022 IL App (4th) 210071, the Appellate Court heard a case pertaining to alleged FOIA violations. In 2018, an inmate, Jared Staake, filed two separate FOIA requests with the Illinois Department of Corrections (DOC) for documents including a complaint on file in a class action against DOC personnel and educational documents. The DOC denied both requests citing Section 7(1)(a) of FOIA which exempts information prohibited from disclosure by federal or State law or rules and regulations implementing federal or State laws. 5 ILCS 140/7(1)(a).

Staake filed a complaint against DOC for declaratory
Continue Reading Civil Penalties For FOIA Violations Survive Even After Documents Are Disclosed

On May 27, 2022, Illinois passed a new law, HB5193, which allows public schools supported wholly or partially by the State to provide instruction in safety education in all grades. Sponsors of this bill say it is the State’s effort to reduce all gun violence and prevent future shootings. The bill was passed with strong bipartisan support.

Safety education includes instruction in the following:

  • Automobile safety, including traffic regulations, highway safety, and the consequences of alcohol consumption and the operation of a motor vehicle;
  • Safety in the home, including safe gun storage;
  • Safety in connection with recreational activities;
  • Safety in

  • Continue Reading New Illinois Law Allows Public Schools to Teach Students About Gun Storage Safety

    By: John M. O’Driscoll

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) published guidance on web accessibility and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It explains how state and local governments (entities covered by ADA Title II) and businesses open to the public (entities covered by ADA Title III) can make sure their websites are accessible to people with disabilities in line with the ADA’s requirements. https://beta.ada.gov/web-guidance/

    The DOJ guidance discusses a wide variety of areas, such as the importance of web accessibility, barriers that some websites create, when the ADA requires web content to be accessible and other resources. The guidance also
    Continue Reading New Web Accessibility Guidance Under the Americans with Disabilities Act

    In March, the U.S. District Court of the Western District of Washington ruled against a school district in favor of a student with intellectual disabilities, who was awarded $500,000 by a jury based on the district’s failure to address repeated acts of peer sexual harassment against the student. In the lawsuit, the plaintiff alleged that the school district violated the student’s due process and equal protection rights, violated Title IX, violated the Washington Law against Discrimination, and was negligent. The jury returned a verdict in favor of the plaintiff on her due process, equal protection, and negligence claims, and the
    Continue Reading Federal Case Highlights Nuances of Addressing Sexual Harassment Involving Students with Disabilities

    By: Courtney Willits

    The Illinois Appellate Court recently heard a case, Calloway v. Chicago Police Department, 2022 IL App (1st) 210090, involving the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and whether the privacy provisions extend to deceased minors. In this case, Plaintiff brought suit against the Chicago Police Department seeking disclosure of records related to an officer-involved fatal shooting of a minor. The circuit court held that the confidentiality provisions that apply to law enforcement records of minors contained in the Juvenile Court Act of 1987 (the “JCA”) did not apply to deceased minors. The Chicago Police Department appealed.

    Section
    Continue Reading Appellate Court Ensures Privacy Protection Under The Juvenile Court Act From A FOIA Request Regarding A Deceased Minor

    By: Darcy L. Proctor

    Recently, in Christopher See v. Illinois Gaming Board, 2022 WL 831601, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a federal lawsuit alleging First Amendment retaliation under 42 U.S.C. §1983 and discrimination in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”). Plaintiff Christopher See is a law-enforcement officer for the Illinois Gaming Board, a state agency tasked with regulating gambling in Illinois. In his capacity as a union representative, the Plaintiff began voicing concern over the Board’s promotion policies, claiming that State Police employees were given unfair advantages over Gaming Board employees.

    After expressing concerns to
    Continue Reading Fitness-For-Duty Exam For Public-Safety Employee Upheld By Federal Court

    On January 24, 2022, the United States Supreme Court (the “Supreme Court” or the “Court”) granted certiorari in the Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College (“SFFA v. Harvard”) case. The Court consolidated SFFA v. Harvard with SFFA v. University of North Carolina (“UNC”) because both lawsuits are being brought by the SFFA and seek to reverse the Court’s 2003 decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), upholding narrowly tailored, race-conscious measures to promote diverse student bodies in colleges and universities. The Court has extended the briefing schedule, and merits briefing will be
    Continue Reading Supreme Court to Hear Case on the Continuation of Affirmative Action in College Admissions

    By: Jim Hess

    Last week, the appellate court affirmed the dismissal of a wrongful death lawsuit that was filed against the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) continuing a history of decisions with respect to moving trains presenting an “open and obvious danger.”

    In Pryor v. Chicago Transit Authority, 2022 IL App (1st) 200895, a plaintiff alleged that a train operator “negligently and willfully and wantonly operated the train” that struck and killed her son when he walked from the platform onto the tracks as the train was approaching. The lawsuit also claimed that the driver failed to reduce the speed
    Continue Reading Appellate Court Upholds Application of “Open and Obvious” Danger With Dismissal of Wrongful Death Lawsuit Against the CTA