Education

In response to the chronic and acute shortage of approved residential placements for Illinois students with special needs, ISBE announced on Monday two steps to provide some, limited relief.

According to a letter from the ISBE General Counsel to the Illinois Council of School Attorneys Executive Committee, ISBE will reinstate its prior practice of reimbursing districts for room, board, and tuition at nonapproved residential schools when ordered by a hearing officer (after the district pays twice its per capita rate for tuition). This change is retroactive to February 2020 when the practice had been discontinued.

Critically, reimbursement is available
Continue Reading ISBE Takes Steps to Increase Access to Residential Placements

By: Elizabeth Wagman

On January 11, 2022, Governor Pritzker issued Executive Order 2022-03 updating the exclusion protocols in schools for individuals who are a confirmed or probable case, a close contact, or symptomatic to reflect the shortened quarantine and isolation periods recommended by the CDC. This was then followed by ISBE releasing the following guidance documents:


Continue Reading ISBE Issues Revised COVID Protocols For Schools

By: Courtney Willits

The Illinois Supreme Court recently heard Mancini Law Group, P.C. v. Schaumburg Police Department, 2021 IL 126675 involving the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA” or the “Act”) where a personal injury law firm filed suit against the Schaumburg Police Department claiming the Police Department violated FOIA when they provided redacted copies of traffic accident reports. The Supreme Court ultimately determined that government entities do not have the authority to waive an individual’s interest in his or her personal or private information in public records.

In 2017, Mancini Law Group filed a FOIA request seeking traffic accident reports
Continue Reading Driver’s Personal Information Remains Protected

In this third blog post in our series on the OSERS Question and Answer document on IDEA requirements related to returning to in-person instruction, we are focusing on an issue of special importance during and subsequent to the pandemic: assistive technology.
Even before schools shut their doors in the spring of 2020, many were already providing one-to-one devices for students. With the transition to virtual learning, even more schools provided students with laptops to enable them to participate in instruction from home. As more and more students are using technology in school, including software that provides supports like word prediction,
Continue Reading OSERS Guidance on Assistive Technology

In 2017, an arbitrator found that Western Illinois University violated its collective bargaining agreement regarding layoffs of professors. Subsequently, in 2018, the same arbitrator issued a supplemental award, determining that the University failed to comply with the earlier award. The matter proceeded to the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Board for review. The Board found that the University committed an unfair labor practice in violation of sections 14(a)(1) and 14(a)(8) of the Illinois Educational Labor Relations Act (115 ILCS 5/1, et seq.) by failing to comply with the two arbitration awards. However, on administrative review, the appellate court disagreed and vacated
Continue Reading That Is Not Your Job! IELRA Arbitrator Exceeded His Authority By Reviewing A Party’s Compliance With His Own Award

In this second blog post in our series on the OSERS Question and Answer document on IDEA requirements related to returning to in-person instruction, we are focusing on two questions relevant to this time of transition and uncertainty. (Our first post highlighted the guidance related to compensatory services; you can read that here.) Schools are open in person, but quarantines, adaptive pauses, and mitigation measures continue. And while expanded access to vaccinations will hopefully keep more students in school in person, the possibility of a future return to remote or hybrid instruction is not negligible. Below we explain the
Continue Reading OSERS Guidance Encourages Collaboration and Creativity for IEP Teams

The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) published a Question and Answer document to advise school districts on returning to in-person instruction. The OSERS Q&A provides guidance on special education issues, including IEP meetings, extended school year services, mental health, medical conditions, transition services, and placement. While much of the document reiterates long-standing law, OSERS does provide some new guidance specific to COVID-19 transitions. We will be releasing a series of blog posts focused on those new issues.

For our first post, we focus on the highly anticipated guidance related to compensatory services. Here
Continue Reading New OSERS Guidance on Reopening, Compensatory Services

In March 2021, the Personnel Committee of the Board of Directors of the South Central Illinois Mass Transit District closed a portion of the meeting to the public, according to the Attorney General’s Public Opinion 21-006. A Request for Review to the Public Access Counselor alleged that the Committee violated OMA because of its failure to record a verbatim recording. The Committee provided a draft of the closed session minutes, an affidavit and a written answer, but admitted that they did not have a verbatim recording of the closed session because the recorder was inadvertently not turned on for that session.
Continue Reading A Reminder that Closed Meetings Require a Verbatim Record Under the Open Meetings Act – A Draft of the Closed Session Minutes Will Not Suffice

According to the Attorney General’s Public Access Opinion 21-007, Peter Czosnyka sent a FOIA (5 ILCS 140/1) request to the Chicago City Clerk’s Office seeking copies of “letters of exception: residential parking issued in the 45th Ward between 05/20/18 to 03/30/21, showing names”.  After an extension, the City Clerk’s Office provided the copies but redacted the subjects’ names, home addresses, vehicle makes/models, and license plate numbers. Czosnyka filed a Request for Review that contested the denial of the names of those persons.

Under Section 1 of FOIA, it states in part that “all records in the custody or possession of
Continue Reading City Clerk Violates FOIA for Redacting Residential Names

The AG’s office issued an opinion on August 31, 2021, concluding that the Mayor’s Office violated Section 3(b) of the FOIA Act (5 ILCS 140/3(d)) according to the Attorney General’s Public Access Opinion 21-008. Chicago Tribune reporter, Gregory Pratt, submitted a request to the Mayor’s office seeking text messages between Mayor Lori Lightfoot and George Miller and Anonsh Ahmed of Loretto Hospital between December 1, 2020, through March 29, 2021. Subsequently, the Mayor’s Office acknowledged receipt of the FOIA request and requested a five-day extension pursuant to section 3e(iii) of FOIA.

After the extension deadline passed, Pratt submitted a Request
Continue Reading Failure to Timely Tender Copies of Mayor Lightfoot’s Text Messages Leads to Violation Section 3(b) of the FOIA Act

In July, the Illinois State Board of Education published non-regulatory guidance to assist schools in implementing HB 40 and HB 2748, now Public Act 102-0172 and 102-0173, respectively. The FAQ addressed many of questions from the field, as we summarized here. ISBE recently updated the FAQ, providing additional guidance related to HB 2748, specifically recommending that districts consider including a more expansive group of students for postsecondary recovery services eligibility and providing the option to parents and adult students to file a State complaint related to the provision of services under the Act. ISBE also enacted an emergency regulation
Continue Reading ISBE Updates Guidance on New Transition Laws

The Second District Appellate Court recently affirmed a Winnebago County Court’s decision denying civil penalties against the State’s Attorney for failure to comply with plaintiff’s FOIA request. The Second District’s opinion in Williams v. Bruscato, 2021 IL App (2d) 190971 (July 21, 2021) further clarified when civil penalties can be imposed on public bodies that fail to comply with a FOIA request.

The plaintiff, Marvin Williams, filed a complaint alleging that the State’s Attorney violated FOIA when it denied all three of his requests for grand jury records concerning criminal charges against him. The trial court agreed with the State’s
Continue Reading Court Rejects Civil Penalties for Failure to Comply With FOIA

Plaintiff fell in a pothole and was injured while crossing a service drive next to her home and so sued the City of Chicago. The City’s Tort Immunity Act motion for summary judgment was affirmed on appeal. Crespo-Fregoso v. City of Chicago, 2021 IL App (1st) 200972 (August 9, 2021). The Local Governmental and Governmental Employees Tort Immunity Act provides that “a local public entity has the duty to exercise ordinary care to maintain its property in a reasonably safe condition for the use in the exercise of ordinary care of people whom the entity intended and permitted to use
Continue Reading City Found to Have No Duty Regarding Pothole Due to Tort Immunity Act and Open and Obvious Condition

Welcome to the 2021-2022 school year. As the new year gets underway, the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) within the Department of Education advised states and districts that it will be providing a series of guidance documents addressing “school reopening efforts and intended to support the full implementation of IDEA requirements.” The letter emphasizes and reiterates the guidance provided throughout 2020 that no IDEA requirements were waived and that, regardless of the instructional delivery approach, districts remain responsible for ensuring that a free appropriate public education (FAPE) is available to all children with disabilities. The first guidance
Continue Reading New Federal Guidance Reiterates Child Find Responsibilities

Tressler attorneys are speaking at the Illinois Municipal League’s 108th Annual Conference on September 23-25, 2021 at the Hilton Chicago. Please click here to register. We look forward to seeing you there!

When: September 23-25, 2021

Where: Hilton Chicago, 720 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL 60605

Presentations:

Navigating a Harassment/Discrimination Free Workplace

This session focuses on preventing, responding to and defending against harassment and discrimination claims that arise in the workplace. The interactive presentation will take audience
Continue Reading Save the Date: 2021 IML Annual Conference

Welcome to the 2021-2022 school year! As we begin, special education leaders should take note of several new laws recently signed by the Governor. We have been talking a lot about HB 40 and HB 2748, which extend transition services for students who turn 22. But several others also deserve our attention, including new laws that limit the use of time out and physical restraint, require districts to ensure their websites and remote learning platforms are accessible to people with disabilities, require IEP teams to provide PUNS information to families at annual reviews, require the consideration of in-State residential programs,
Continue Reading New Year, New Laws