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You just received a letter from your child’s school claiming your child is not a district resident and threatening to disenroll him or her. The letter informs you of your right to a hearing. You want the hearing, but question whether you really need an attorney.
It cannot be stressed enough that parents who go to hearing unprepared are overwhelmingly likely to lose and to undermine their chances on appeal. This is true even if you have an attorney, but that attorney does not understand the basics of school residency.
To prove residency, you must have physical presence in the
Continue Reading THE IMPORTANCE OF THE HEARING IN A SCHOOL RESIDENCY CASE

It may seem silly, but you can be disciplined for something otherwise perfectly legal at home if you do it in front of a school camera.
For example, a Colorado 12-year-old was suspended for briefly passing a toy gun in front of a camera during an online art class. (See 12-Year-Old Suspended Over Toy Gun Seen in Virtual Class). The school sent the sheriff to the child’s house.
Many school districts do bar students from bringing look-alike weapons, even water pistols, to school. Schools may decide that if you are online, you must obey the same rules as though
Continue Reading CAN I GET IN TROUBLE FOR SOMETHING I DID DURING ONLINE SCHOOL?

The answer is yes, but it is important to read your school district’s policies carefully to understand all the ins and outs of the rules.
For example, the Chicago Public Schools Policy Manual Sec. 502.1 requires teachers hired after November 20, 1996 to move into the City within six months from the day their employment begins unless they have otherwise been granted a waiver. The Board considers any tenured teacher who intentionally lies by act or omission about their residency to have engaged in irremediable conduct and may be dismissed without warning. Where no misrepresentations have occurred, the Board may
Continue Reading CAN A TEACHER BE DISMISSED FOR VIOLATING SCHOOL RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS?

However you may feel about COVID restrictions, school administrators are taking this public safety threat very seriously. As a result, you could actually face school expulsion if you ignore the rules.
For example, University of Illinois requires all students, employees and visitors to wear masks inside any university facility, building or classroom. Masks must also be worn outdoors where social distancing of six feet apart cannot be maintained. Students who test positive for COVID must isolate for ten days.
While disobeying COVID policy may not be listed as a specific offense in a school’s student code, most schools have catch-all
Continue Reading CAN YOU BE SUSPENDED FROM SCHOOL IN ILLINOIS FOR DISOBEYING COVID RULES?

Under Illinois law, a teacher who is past their probationary period cannot be removed except for cause. But what is cause?
Cause may be remediable or irremediable. Remediable conduct may include substandard teaching. Irremediable conduct may include conduct that is cruel, immoral, negligent or criminal or in any way causes psychological or physical harm to a student.
For example, in Ahmad v. Board of Education of the City of Chicago, a teacher falsely represented herself as a school district agent to obtain over $33,000 in free school supplies from a nonprofit organization that she intended to sell for her
Continue Reading WHAT IS “CAUSE” UNDER ILLINOIS LAW WHEN TERMINATING A TEACHER?

Under Illinois law, you may only be terminated as a teacher for cause once your probationary period has expired. To do so, however, the school district must follow certain procedures. See: 105 ILCS 5/34-85.
If the alleged “cause” is remediable, you must receive a reasonable written warning specifically stating that such cause may result in charges unless you take steps to remove the problem. There are a couple exceptions to this rule, such as if you have failed a remediation plan or if the district and your union have agreed on an alternative system of remediation.
No written warning
Continue Reading WHAT ARE MY RIGHTS IN A TEACHER TERMINATION PROCEEDING UNDER ILLINOIS LAW?

As of June 1, 2020, high school students old enough to vote will not have to choose between exercising their constitutional rights and facing trouble over an unexcused absence.
Of course, this law may be less critical during the pandemic.
Under 10 ILCS 5/7-42, a student may leave school in order to vote for up to two hours during a school day. The student may vote election day or during early voting beginning the 15th day before an election. The school, however, may specify the hours when the student may be absent.
If you have questions about this or
Continue Reading NEW ILLINOIS LAW LETS STUDENTS LEAVE SCHOOL TO VOTE

Under the law, public schoolteachers cannot be fired except for cause. In many cases, a teacher may go through a remediation process in order to keep their job. But some types of conduct are not eligible for that process.
What kind of charges allow a Board of Education to bypass the remediation process and go straight for termination? The answer is less clear than you might think.
Generally, a board must first issue a written warning for conduct that is remediable, unless a teacher displays conduct that is “cruel, immoral, negligent, or criminal or that in any way causes psychological
Continue Reading WHEN CAN A TENURED TEACHER BE FIRED WITHOUT REMEDIATION?

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
Continue Reading CAN THEY QUESTION MY CHILD AT SCHOOL? NEW RULES UNDER ILLINOIS LAW

You saw the school bus, but you honestly didn’t see the stop sign extending from it. So you drove past the bus, and next thing you know, a police car signaled you to pull over. You would never intentionally disobey a school bus sign, and the whole thing is extremely upsetting.
What is the law? What can you do?
In Illinois, you must stop before passing a school bus from either direction when the bus is signaling a stop by either a stop sign or flashing lights. You may not drive forward until the school bus proceeds, the bus driver
Continue Reading PASSING A SCHOOL BUS IN ILLINOIS

Your son has been dating a16-year-old girl from his high school for several months. Although you cautioned him about premarital sex, everything you said went in one ear and out the other. To make matters worse, her father found out right after your son turned 18. Now he is facing criminal charges for statutory rape and expulsion from school.
What is statutory rape? What are the penalties? What can you do?
In Illinois, statutory rape means sexual penetration or conduct with someone at least 13 and less than 17 years old if you are no more than 5 years older
Continue Reading WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN MY CHILD HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH STATUTORY RAPE IN ILLINOIS?

Your child’s school mailed you a letter, which came back as “undeliverable.” From that, the school inferred that you really live outside their district. They had an inspector watch your home, and now they are threatening to kick out your child and stick you with the bill.
Once you receive notice of a residency challenge, you will likely need to request a hearing. Be forewarned that a school residency hearing can often be an uphill battle. While some hearing officers are quite fair, it is the school district who pays him or her. Therefore, the hearing officer has every reason
Continue Reading CAN MY FAMILY HELP ME PROVE I LIVE IN MY SCHOOL DISTRICT?

Your school district no longer believes your child is a legal resident, and so a school inspector is coming for a home visit. Embarrassed by the trash and dirty socks, you nag your child to clean up his or her room. Well, not so fast! This is the one time a messy room is actually a good thing.
Questions about your residency may come to the school’s attention from a student’s remark or a piece of returned mail. You may then get a letter notifying you that the school will dis-enroll your child unless you request a hearing. As an
Continue Reading YOUR CHILD’S MESSY ROOM MAY HELP PROVE SCHOOL RESIDENCY

Your son got caught with contraband in his school locker. The principal hauled him in for questioning without contacting you or asking if your son wanted an attorney. Can they do that?
Generally, the answer is yes. While Illinois law prohibits police and other public officials from questioning your child without asking if he or she wants an attorney, most school officials are not considered a public official for these purposes.
Under 705 ILCS 405/5-401.5(a-5), your child’s statement is presumed inadmissible as evidence if an officer or public official takes your child’s statement during a custodial interrogation without first
Continue Reading CAN SCHOOL OFFICIALS QUESTION MY CHILD WITHOUT A LAWYER PRESENT?

Your child really is a good kid. But like many teens, he is still pushing his limits, which can result in some pretty bone-headed behavior. Now, the school is upset over something he posted on Facebook. You know he was just being silly, but the school isn’t laughing. Instead, your child faces both expulsion from school and criminal charges.
Under the typical school code of conduct, your child’s threats may be considered “Gross Misconduct.” Penalties may range from a parent conference to expulsion. In some cases, the school may still expel your child after a suspension.
Before that happens, you
Continue Reading MY CHILD DIDN’T MEAN IT: THREATENING A SCHOOL IN ILLINOIS

It could have been a teachable moment.
Instead, Paul Boron, a 13-year-old middle school student in Manteno, IL, is facing felony charges.
Did he slip someone a date rape drug at a party? Was he dealing drugs? Was he sexting? None of the above. His crime: recording a conversation between himself and his principal without the principal’s consent in violation of Illinois’s eavesdropping law. The Illinois law requires the consent of all parties when recording a private conversation.
The school district and the justice system could have taken this opportunity to educate Boron and other students about the law. Instead,
Continue Reading WASTING A TEACHABLE MOMENT: Student charged with felony for recording principal at school