Education

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

    Public Act 102-0339 requires each school district’s time out and physical restraint oversight team to develop a plan for reducing and eventually eliminating the use of isolated time out, time out, and physical restraint in accordance with ISBE goals and benchmarks. Last week, ISBE announced the deadline for submitting such plans is July 1, 2022, with yearly progress reports to be submitted by July 1 of each year thereafter. To assist districts in creating their plans, ISBE also released a template and checklist that addresses required components of the plan and aligns with the ISBE goals and benchmarks. Districts
    Continue Reading ISBE Releases Isolated Time Out, Time Out, and Physical Restraint Reduction Plan Template and Due Date

    By: Courtney Willits

    The Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor (PAC) recently issued PAC Opinion 22-003 where they found a City Council in violation of the Open Meetings Act (OMA) for its remote meeting practices. An individual filed a request for review with the PAC claiming that the Sumner City Council provided inadequate notice when they held a remote meeting in January 2022. She claimed that the City posted an agenda of the meeting at City Hall, which stated it would be held via Zoom, but it did not include the access link or information on how to attend the
    Continue Reading Better Take Note…Proper Notice is Required for Hybrid Meetings

    The Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education recently issued a new Fact Sheet. The Fact Sheet repeats prior guidance that “the responsibility for schools to comply with Section 504 continues regardless of how schools provide education: virtually, in-person, or with a hybrid learning model.” Accordingly, the guidance provides that 504 teams should meet if needed to address changes in student needs related to the pandemic as well as to determine whether compensatory services are warranted. The OCR Fact Sheet follows the Q&A issued by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services last fall, which
    Continue Reading OCR Issues Fact Sheet on Providing FAPE During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Addressing the Need for Compensatory Services Under Section 504

    In Illinois, as universal masking is fading, the next question looms: what will the end of universal masking mean for staff and students with disabilities who are at high risk? Across the county, issues regarding universal masking have been hotly litigated. In this post, we focus on the issue of mask mandates as a reasonable accommodation for disability needs, and to date, the decisions paint a complicated picture. Districts planning or implementing mask optional plans should consider the needs of students and staff with disabilities who request continued masking of those around them to preserve their access to the district’s
    Continue Reading Are Mask Mandates a Reasonable Accommodation?

    It’s 2022 and the PAC is back! In its first opinion in 2022, in a binding opinion, the PAC ruled in favor of a public body in a FOIA appeal involving the attorney-client privilege exception of FOIA.

    On October 4, 2021, a journalist, submitted a FOIA request to the State’s Attorney’s Office seeking copies of any and all reports the State’s Attorney gave to Kane County Board members regarding alleged actions to fund an educational degree using County funds. On October 8, 2021, the State’s Attorney’s Office denied the request pursuant to section 7(1)(m) of FOIA. In the denial letter, the
    Continue Reading Attorney-Client Privilege As FOIA Exemption

    On January 14, 2022, the Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whether a school district was within its rights in telling a coach not to continue to kneel and pray at the 50-yard line after his team’s games.

    Background

    From 2008 to 2015, Joseph Kennedy worked as an assistant varsity football coach for a public school, Bremerton High School. As a devout Christian, Kennedy had a practice of kneeling at mid-field to pray immediately after each game. These prayers were usually silent and lasted 30 seconds, but they were in full view of players and spectators. Over time, players began
    Continue Reading Livin’ on a Prayer: Supreme Court to Hear Case of Football Coach who Lost Job for Praying

    Over the summer, we reported on the passage of Public Act 102-0339, which aims to reduce and the use of time out, isolated time out, and physical restraint (referred to herein as “restrictive interventions”) in schools. In part, the new law requires ISBE to promulgate updated rules for the use of restrictive interventions, including documentation and reporting requirements, training requirements, and a procedure to file a complaint alleging a violation of the law related to the use of restrictive interventions. In addition, the new law requires ISBE to establish goals and benchmarks for schools to reduce the use of
    Continue Reading ISBE Releases New Rules and Goals & Benchmarks Regarding Use of Isolated Time Out, Time Out, and Physical Restraint

    By: Taylor Brewer

    The First District Court of Appeals has issued a ruling in Barry v. The City of Chicago, 2021 IL App (1st) 200829, holding that a municipality does not have an obligation to pay PSEBA benefits for Medicare-eligible beneficiaries and their spouses. This case involved 20 plaintiffs, all former Chicago Fire Department employees, who suffered career-ending injuries and were granted benefits under the Public Safety Employees Benefits Act (PSEBA). Under PSEBA, the City of Chicago was obligated to provide lifetime health insurance benefits for the former firefighters, as well as their spouses and certain dependent children. The
    Continue Reading First District Cuts Off PSEBA Responsibility For Medicare-Eligible Beneficiaries And Spouses

    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