Local Government Lowdown

Get insights and analysis on all the latest Illinois government legal news from Tressler’s local attorneys.

On June 15, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 extends to people that identify as gay or transgender. Title VII prohibits an employer from discriminating against any person based upon, among other characteristics, that person’s sex – in other words, male or female. In Bostock v. Clayton County, the Supreme Court considered whether Title VII’s definition of “sex” includes gay and transgender individuals. Until now, the lower courts had been divided on the question. In a 6-3 decision authored by Neil Gorsuch, the Court ruled that an “employer who fires…
Jennifer Longanecker was a tenured fifth-grade teacher in the East Moline School District. In 2014, the School Board found that she helped a student cheat on the Illinois Standards Achievement Test. In doing so, the Board reversed a hearing officer’s finding that she had not helped the student cheat. Ms. Longanecker sued and the case has been making its way through the Illinois state courts ever since. First, the Circuit Court affirmed the Board’s decision and this last stop finds the Appellate Court doing so, as well. The Appellate Court’s decision solidifies the developing trend in Illinois school law to defer to…
On June 16, 2020, President Trump issued an Executive Order entitled “SAFE POLICING FOR SAFE COMMUNITIES.”  The Order can be found at https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/6948245/Trump-Policing-Executive-Order.pdf. There is speculation in the national press that Congress may soon enact legislation in this regard, but for now, the Order provides requirements with which all state and local law enforcement agencies must comply in order to qualify for the Department of Justice discretionary grants.  Among these requirements, local agencies must seek credentials from an independent body certified by the U.S. Attorney General.  These credentialing bodies should address such issues as the use of force training,…
A constant question for boards is whether discussions are best suited for an open or closed session. The Open Meetings Act requires that all meetings of public bodies be open to the public. 5 ILCS 120/2.  However, there are multiple exceptions to this rule. Specifically, boards are permitted to move a meeting from open to closed session to discuss “the appointment, employment, compensation, discipline, performance, or dismissal of specific employees…”5 ILCS 120/2(c)(1).  A common mistake made by public bodies is interpreting this exception to mean that all conversations about any personnel matters may be held in closed session. Unfortunately, this oversimplification of the…
On June 5, 2020, Governor J.B. Pritzker signed HB 2096 into law. The Bill amends the Illinois Local Library Act and the Public Library District Act, creating the “Cards for Kids Act.”  75 ILCS 16/30-55.60. The amendment adds to the group of non-residents entitled to library cards without paying a library fee.  Non-resident students, whose household incomes fall at or below the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Income Eligibility Guidelines, cannot be charged fees for non-resident library cards.  Library boards still retain their authority to regulate the terms and conditions of their non-resident card program, but can no longer charge a fee…
Public bodies and those who contract with public bodies should be aware of a recent appellate court decision that addressed two topics with respect to the Prevailing Wage Act – the importance of including specific prevailing wage language into contracts awarded for public work and how certain landscaping work may be covered by the Act. In Valerio v. Moore Landscapes, LLC., 2020 IL App (1st) 190185 (March 26, 2020), twelve landscape laborers filed suit against their employer, Moore Landscapes, LLC, for failing to pay them the prevailing wage for work they performed of replacing and trees pursuant to Moore’s contract…
Relying on their inherent authority under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and Workers’ Occupation Disease Act (the “Acts”), on April 13, 2020, the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission (IWCC) amended Section 9030.70 of their Rules of Evidence. Titled EMERGENCY under 9030.70 a, the new Rule creates a rebuttable presumption under the Acts of a causal connection between a “first responder’s or front-line worker’s” employment and a diagnosis of COVID-19.  In other words, any first responder or front-line worker diagnosed with COVID-19 is presumed under the Acts to have contracted the disease as a result of or in the course of their employment. The…
One bright spot in recent events has been to see our kids stay focused as students and to see teachers continue their great work while bunkered down from their homes. Nevertheless, it may be worthwhile to pause to think about the technology that makes this all possible. One lawsuit recently filed in California sheds light on the privacy issues created when students, schools and teachers become increasingly reliant on “e-learning” and the technology that supports it. On April 2, 2020, a class-action lawsuit was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of California entitled H.K. and J.C., through their
In 2013, Hillsboro Community School District No. 3 entered into an energy services agreement with Amerisco Inc. for the renovation of several schools within its district. The agreement was entered into pursuant to the bid and proposal process required by the School Code. Kampmann v. Hillsboro Community School District No. 3 Board of Education, 2019 IL App 180043 ¶ 3-7, 139 N.E.3d 1020 (5th Dist. 2019). Amerisco’s proposal included $7,445,769 of proposed work for Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro Junior High School, Beckemeyer Elementary School and Coffeen Elementary School.  Id. ¶ 3. In 2014, the School Board approved a bond issue in the amount…
On the last day of 2019, the Public Access Counselor (PAC) released its last binding opinion of the year. In PAC Opinion 19-013, the PAC found the City of Bunker Hill in violation of Illinois’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for not providing an audiotape of an apparent gathering of public officials – a meeting of the Committee of the Whole which did not have a quorum but where City business was discussed. The PAC addressed the issue of whether the City violated FOIA by failing to provide a copy of the requested recording of the City’ s September 11, 2019 meeting…
Tressler attorneys are speaking at the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference. Please click here to register. We look forward to seeing you there! January 23-25, 2020 Hyatt Regency Chicago 151 E. Wacker Drive Chicago, Illinois 60601 Conference Website: http://www.ilparksconference.com/ Presentations: Time’s Up – Managing a Harassment-Free Workplace Date: 1/24/20 Time: 8:15 AM – 9:30 AM Speaker: Scott Stewart Thumbs Up:  The Fundamentals of Illinois’ Biometric Information Protection Act Date: 1/24/20 Time: 8:15 AM – 9:30 AM Speakers: Todd Rowe and Peter Murphy Coaches and Sexual Assault Claims: What You Need to Do to Protect Your Agency Date: 1/24/20 Time:…
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…
Tressler attorneys have been selected to speak at the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference in 2020. Registration is now open. We look forward to seeing you there! January 23-25, 2020 Hyatt Regency Chicago 151 E. Wacker Drive Chicago, Illinois 60601 Conference Website: http://www.ilparksconference.com/ Presentations: Time’s Up – Managing a Harassment-Free Workplace Date: 1/24/20 Time: 8:15 AM – 9:30 AM Speaker: Scott Stewart Thumbs Up:  The Fundamentals of Illinois’ Biometric Information Protection Act Date: 1/24/20 Time: 8:15 AM – 9:30 AM Speakers: Todd Rowe and Peter Murphy Coaches and Sexual Assault Claims: What You Need to Do to Protect Your…
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, holding onto her feet. While…
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…