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Illinois House and Senate Pass New Legislation Substantially Altering Procedures for Law Enforcement Questioning and Detainment on School Grounds

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June 10, 2019

By Emily Tulloch

On June 1, 2019, the Illinois House voted to pass House Bill 2627, which would amend the Illinois School Code to require schools to notify parents and take reasonable steps to include parents or school mental health professionals when law enforcement officers detain and question students on school grounds. HB2627 has passed both houses and is now awaiting Governor Pritzker’s signature for it to become law. If effectuated, the changes will require substantial procedural shifts in how schools conduct investigations of potential criminal student conduct.

The bill covers any detainment or questioning of students by law enforcement on school grounds. If enacted, prior to any such detainment or questioning of a student who is suspected of committing a crime, a school must:

1. Ensure that the student’s parent or guardian is notified regarding the questioning and/or detainment or an attempt at notification is made;
2. Document the time and manner in which notification occurred or was attempted;
3. Make reasonable efforts to ensure that the student’s parent or guardian is present during the questioning. If the parent or guardian cannot be present during questioning, then the school must ensure that a school social worker, school psychologist, school nurse, school guidance counselor, or other mental health professional is present; and
4. Make reasonable efforts to ensure that a law enforcement officer with training in promoting safe interactions and communications with youth is present during the questioning, if practicable.

School grounds means school property during regular hours when school is in session and students are present. Law enforcement officers includes school resource officers and school security personnel, as well as uniformed police officers.

Notably, the bill does not affect or limit the ability of a law enforcement officer to make arrests on school grounds. Schools also would not be required to comply with the law if urgent and immediate action by law enforcement personnel is necessary for any of the following reasons:

1. to prevent bodily harm or injury;
2. to apprehend an armed or fleeing suspect;
3. prevent the destruction of evidence, or 
4. address an emergency or otherwise dangerous situation.

The bill will go into effect immediately upon signature by the Governor. We will continue to monitor the bill and inform you of its progress. If the Governor signs the bill, school districts should prepare to train staff on the new requirements and review policies and procedures. For questions regarding the potentially significant implications of this bill on your district, contact Emily Tulloch or another Franczek attorney.

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