Education

On May 16, 2019, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), an anti-affirmative action group, filed yet another lawsuit against the University of Texas at Austin (the University). This is the third such suit SFFA has filed against the University. The new lawsuit alleges the University violates the Equal Rights Amendment of the Texas Constitution by considering race in the admissions process. A similar lawsuit between the parties was dismissed in April due to a lack of standing. Top Ten Percent Plan Texas passed a law in 1997 known as the “Top Ten Percent Plan” (TTPP) which requires public state universities to…
A speech pathologist goes out on unexpected medical leave. Three paraprofessionals quit in one week. A special education teacher is abducted by aliens and no substitutes are available. Sometimes staff absences are unavoidable, and they are almost always unpredictable. Shortages in special education in particular are making it difficult to find qualified teachers, related services providers, and substitutes and replacements when one of those professionals is unavailable unexpectedly. As we previously explained, a recent Illinois law (HB 3586) added notification requirements when a student’s IEP services are not provided. Although we hope that this increased communication and…
With all the hub-bub about HB 3586 (more on that here!), you would be excused if you missed that another special education law, passed last year, went into effect this school year. This one is easy to implement. The law requires that the district post on its website and in its student handbook or “newsletter notice” that students with disabilities who do not qualify for an IEP may qualify for services under Section 504 if the student has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity, has a record of a physical or…
Change To The Open Meetings Act Exemption Regarding Employment The Governor recently signed an amendment to the Open Meetings Act into law effective immediately. 5 ILCS 120/2(c). The law had allowed public bodies to go into closed session to discuss the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance or dismissal of specific employees.  The amendment now extends that not only to employees of a public body but also those specific individuals who serve as independent contractors in a park, recreational or educational setting or specific volunteers of the public body.  Boards should be reminded that this exemption does not permit generic discussions…
The Tort Immunity Act is a useful tool for all public entities. Plaintiff attorneys who do not understand its impact often fail to understand that mere negligence is insufficient under the Act. Willful and wanton conduct is the standard for liability in most instances. The following case demonstrates that calling something willful and wanton does not make it so. Samantha Biancorosso, a sixth-grade student at Troy Community Consolidated School District No. 30C, was injured during cheerleading practice while attempting a stunt. The stunt involved Samantha, acting as a “flyer,” standing above the squad while other cheerleaders acted as a base,…
The Illinois statute found at 105 ILCS 5/10-20.19c imposes certain requirements on Illinois school districts regarding recycled paper and paper products and solid waste management (“School Recycled Paper and Solid Waste Reduction Law”), with an apparently significant deadline approaching in mid-2020. Section (a-5) of the statute provides that: Each school district must periodically review its procurement procedures and specifications regarding the purchase of products and supplies; Those procedures and specifications must be modified to require the school district to seek out products and supplies that contain recycled materials and to ensure that purchased product and supplies are reusable, durable or…
You know from our previous post regarding recent legislation in Illinois, we have had our eye on House Bill 3586, which has been awaiting the Governor’s signature since June. Well, the time has come; Governor Pritzker signed the law on Friday. And there were no amendments to the law to address some of the areas of confusion that were identified after the bill was passed by the legislature. The amendments to the Children with Disabilities article of the School Code brought by the law are immediately in effect, although revisions may be on the horizon during the veto session.…
You would be forgiven if you can’t keep up with the many changes in the Illinois laws governing education at back-to-school time this year. As if Illinois special educators and administrators don’t have enough to do already, a significant number of laws passed or awaiting Governor Pritzker’s “John Hancock” impact special education. See the end of this post for information about the many Franczek resources on the horizon to assist with understanding the current education-legislation landscape. For now, we wanted to make sure you are aware of some particularly noteworthy legal changes relating to students with medical concerns and medication…
With the 2019-2020 school year beginning, school personnel must be mindful of changes in the law and best practices related to student health and safety. Interested in learning more? Join us next Tuesday, August 27, 2019, at 12:00pm central time for a complimentary continuing legal education webinar. Register here. VaccinationsOne of the issues we will discuss is vaccinations. Every state has law mandating vaccines for students, but every state also has at least one exemption to mandatory vaccines. The majority of recent vaccination cases arise from challenges to the religious, philosophical, or personal belief exemptions. Schools in each state should stay up-to-date on the…
We all know that out-of-state residential placements are a big deal in special education, because we work in schools every day and support these challenging decisions made by school personnel. Now, the issue is garnering attention outside of the schoolhouse. A recent article by NPR Illinois highlighted the significant numbers of such placements, the potential causes of the placements, and the costs to schools and the government. NPR called on Franczek education partner Jennifer Smith to provide insight on this issue of importance to all members of the special education community, including schools. The article states: Jennifer Smith, an attorney…
The Illinois Equal Pay Act of 2003 (EPA) already prohibits employers from paying unequal wages to men and women for doing the same or substantially similar work. (820 ILCS 112/1 et seq.) It also prohibits employers from paying African American employees less than other employees under the same circumstances. On September 29, 2019, Illinois will join a short list of progressive states when a recent amendment to the EPA goes into effect to prohibit employers from asking job applicants about their salary history. (Public Act 101-0177.) Broad Prohibitions In The New EPA It will prohibit all Illinois employers from: Using…
And By Guest Author Tracey Truesdale In what is perhaps an agency first, the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently issued a letter in response to a request from a concerned parent.  The parent sought an opinion on whether the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would provide job protection to an employee who takes time off to attend individualized education program (IEP) meetings for their children.  In a somewhat surprising turn of events given the current political climate, the DOL determined that parents may take intermittent leave under the FMLA to attend these meetings for…
In a surprisingly cutting-edge move, the State of Illinois has enacted the Artificial Intelligence Video Interview Act.  Public Act 101-260 becomes effective January 1, 2020. An employer seeking to record video interviews and use artificial intelligence to analyze job applicant videos must, before the interview, 1) notify each applicant that artificial intelligence may be used to analyze the applicant’s video interview and consider the applicant’s fitness for the position; and 2) provide the applicant with information of how the artificial intelligence works and what characteristics it uses to evaluate applicants; and 3) obtain consent from the applicant to so evaluated.…
The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether a federal law prohibiting employers from discriminating because of sex also protects LGBTQ individuals. Background of Pending Cases Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from discriminating against an individual “because of” that individual’s “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” In two consolidated cases—Bostock v. Clayton County and Zarda v. Altitude Express—the Court will decide whether Title VII’s ban on “sex” discrimination also prohibits employment discrimination based on an individual’s sexual orientation. And in a third case—R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes v.
In a July 2019 briefing report, the United States Commission on Civil Rights warned that students of color with disabilities face exclusionary discipline, like suspensions and expulsions, at much higher rates than their peers without disabilities. What is the Commission, what were its findings and recommendations, and what do they mean for your school or school district? What is the Commission on Civil Rights? The Commission describes itself as an independent, bipartisan, fact-finding federal agency that aims to inform the development of national civil rights policy and enhance enforcement of federal civil rights laws. The Commission studies alleged deprivations…
It’s a nightmare scenario: You come back to school rested after a well-deserved summer break to find a parent complaining that their child should have been evaluated over the summer and had an IEP in place on the first day of school. You received the request for an evaluation, either near the end of the school year or during the summer, but those pesky timelines can be so hard to keep up with when the sun is shining and vacation is on the horizon. What rules can help you avoid the timing trap for special education eligibility requests during the…