By: Brittany Flaherty Theis

Impact Fees
Public Act 98-0741 amends the Illinois Municipal Code. The Act provides that for purposes of implementing developer donations or impact fees “school grounds” is defined so as to include land or site improvements, which include school buildings or other infrastructure, including technological infrastructure, necessitated and specifically and uniquely attributed to the development or subdivision in question. Technological infrastructure was not specifically listed prior to the amendment. Public Act 98-0741 is effective January 1, 2015.

Bullying Policies
Public Act 98-0669 amends the School Code as it relates to bullying prevention, effective June 26, 2014. Charter schools have been added to the types of schools that should educate students, parents, and personnel about what behaviors constitute prohibited bullying. It now applies to school districts, charter schools, and non-public, non-sectarian elementary or secondary schools. The Act gives significant attention to defining “policy on bullying” and “restorative measures.”

A policy on bullying must include: 1) the statutory definition of bullying; 2) a statement that bullying is contrary law and the policy of the district; 3) procedures for promptly reporting bullying; 4) procedures for promptly informing the parents or guardians of the involved students of the incident (consistent with federal and state laws) and available resources and restorative measures; 5) procedures for investigating and addressing reports of bullying; 6) interventions that can be taken to address bullying; 7) a statement prohibiting reprisal or retaliation against a person who reports bullying and the remedial actions for a person who engages in reprisal or retaliation; and 8) consequences and remedial actions for a person found to have falsely accused another of bullying. The policy must consider input from students, parents, and guardians. It must be posted on the school district’s website, included in the student handbook, distributed annually to parents, guardians, students, and school personnel, and posted where other policies, rules, or standards of conduct are posted, if applicable.

The Act requires there to be a policy evaluation process to assess the outcomes and effectiveness of the policy. The data and information developed as a result of the policy evaluation must be made available on the school district’s website, or otherwise made available to administrators, school personnel, parents, guardians, and students if the district does not have a website. Each school district, charter school, and non-public, non-sectarian elementary or secondary school must review and re-evaluate its policy and make any necessary changes.

Public Act 98-0669 defines “restorative measures” to mean “a continuum of school-based alternatives to exclusionary discipline, such as suspensions and expulsions, that: (i) are adapted to the particular needs of the school and community, (ii) contribute to maintaining school safety, (iii) protect the integrity of a positive and productive learning climate, (iv) teach students the personal and interpersonal skills they will need to be successful in school and society, (v) serve to build and restore relationships among students, families, schools, and communities, and (vi) reduce the likelihood of future disruption by balancing accountability with an understanding of students’ behavioral health needs in order to keep students in school.

Illinois Emergency Management Agency Grants
The Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act previously authorized the Illinois Emergency Management Agency to make grants to various higher education institutions for safety and security improvements. Effective June 23, 2014, Public Act 98-0664 extends that authority to include grants to public K-12 school districts, area vocational centers as designated by the State Board of Education, inter-district special education cooperatives, regional safe schools, and nonpublic K-12 schools.

CPR/AED Training Requirement
Effective July 1, 2014, Public Act 98-0632 requires all secondary schools in the state to include training on how to properly administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) in their curricula. The training must be in accordance with the standards established by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or another nationally recognized certifying organization.

Commercial Property Valuation and Tornado Disasters
Public Act 98-0702, effective July 7, 2014, provides special valuation provisions for commercial or industrial property owned and used by a small business when there has been a tornado disaster (an occurrence of widespread or severe damage or loss of property resulting from a tornado or combination of tornadoes that has been proclaimed as a natural disaster by the Governor or the President of the United States) if certain conditions are met.

Tax for Education Referendum Act
Public Act 98-0794 states that the State Board of Education shall cause the following question to be posed to the voters at the November 4, 2014 general election: “Should the Illinois Constitution be amended to require that each school district receive additional revenue, based on their number of students, from an additional 3% tax on income greater than one million dollars?” The Governor’s Press Release can be found here.

The attorneys at Whitt Law are dedicated to staying abreast of developments in the law that impact our clients. If you have any questions regarding legislative changes that might impact your school district, please contact Whitt Law Attorney Brittany Flaherty Theis.