Education

Recently, the Chicago Tribune reported on a data breach involving student data stored by Pearson Clinical Assessment that may have involved a number of students at Illinois schools. On September 5, 2019, the parent of a student at Indian Prairie School District 204 in Naperville, Illinois filed a class-action lawsuit against Pearson Clinical Assessment – the education publisher that suffered a massive data breach in November 2018 exposing the personal information of thousands of teachers and students across the country. As schools increasingly use online services and other technologies to help students learn, the ability to provide adequate protection of…
With the number of students who identify as gender non-conforming on the rise, many educators have questions regarding the supports and services that may be available to such students. This year at IAASE, Jennifer Smith and John Swinney addressed this intersection of gender identity and special education, including factors to consider under Section 504, the IDEA, and the ADA. The main take away? Educators should be cognizant that gender non-conformity is not, as a rule, a disability. However, the emotional and educational impact in identifying as non-conforming may require school districts to provide gender non-conforming students with supports. Other important…
We had great participation in our IAASE session last week on this topic, with the audience voting electronically to weigh in on their anticipated outcomes of cases. If you missed it, here are our main takeaways. When it comes to bullying and special education, districts face potential liability on a number of fronts, including lawsuits, OCR complaints, and due process complaints. To mitigate these risks, districts need a two-pronged approach and clear communication. First, districts should follow their bullying policies to fully investigate reports of bullying and take steps that are reasonably calculated to stop the bullying, prevent its reoccurrence,…
On October 17, 2019, Franczek P.C. Special Education team members Dana Fattore Crumley and Emily Tulloch presented at the IAASE 2019 Fall Conference on Fighting Friendly Fire in your IEP: Avoiding Internal Challenges to IDEA Compliance. This session provided an overview of common internal challenges that can sabotage IEP compliance. For a summary of this session and access to the presentation materials, keep reading! We often think of challenges to the IEP as coming from the outside, but sometimes actions by school employees can create “friendly fire” that puts your IEP at risk. Examples include: lack of preparation failure to…
Our Partner Jennifer Smith asked an important question during the Legislative Update session yesterday at IAASE’s 2019 Fall Conference: What can Illinois special education teachers and administrators do to help ensure that the legislature makes necessary fixes to Public Act 101-0515—or as IAASE aptly calls it, “That Pesky RTI and Special Education Bill”—during the upcoming veto session. We gave you the lowdown on the demanding new law in a blog post earlier this year. As might be expected, the pending proposal to amend the law and remove requirements that were intended to apply only to…
A few weeks ago, the United States District Court of Massachusetts issued its long-awaited decision in the lawsuit brought by Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (“SFFA”) against Harvard University (“Harvard”).  In a 130-page decision, the court found in favor of Harvard, holding that Harvard’s race-conscious admissions process was lawful. After the ruling, SFFA President Edward Blum said in a statement that he was disappointed by the ruling and, “SFFA will appeal this decision to the First [Circuit] Court of Appeals and, if necessary, to the U.S. Supreme Court.” Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College…
On September 25, 2019, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released The Role of Districts in Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans, which is a guide to emergency operations plans (“EOPs”).  The guide addresses a variety of topics, including the roles and responsibilities of schools, school districts, and community partners regarding school safety, along with prevention and mitigation techniques.  The guide also describes that school districts should coordinate with schools and community partners to make EOPs more collaborative.  The guide details…
As the kick-off to the school year winds down and daily routines take shape, we start to see serious student discipline issues pop up. And one situation that always leads to confusion is what to do when a student who does not have an IEP is up for expulsion and then the parent requests an evaluation or argues that the student should have already been found eligible. You know special rules apply, but trying to piece it all together can make your head spin. We’re flowchart people over here at Franczek P.C. Let’s start with a visual representation of the…
As of August 23, 2019, Illinois has new ground rules regarding the need to notify a parent before questioning your minor child at school. Before questioning a student on school grounds who is suspected of a crime 1) a law enforcement or school security official must try to notify you, 2) the school must document the time and manner of the notice, and 3) the school must make reasonable efforts to ensure you are present during questioning. If you cannot be present, then the school must include a school social worker, psychologist, nurse, guidance counselor or other mental health professional…
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.…