Charter School 2023 Legislative Update
We previously shared our School Law Legislative Update, focused on new Illinois school-related laws that became effective January 1, 2023. From that update, our team at Franczek P.C. has compiled a narrower list of those laws applicable to charter schools in its Charter School Legislative Update, focused on new laws in effect in 2023.
For a refresher on other new laws affecting charter schools that went into effect for the 2022-2023 school year, please see our past alerts and webinars on various school law updates, including:
- Faith’s Law and Erin’s Law
- Q and A on School Threat Assessment Procedures
- COVID-19 Paid Leave Law: FAQ
- 2021 Legislative Update Summary (including other laws in effect for SY 2022-2023)
- Fall 2022 School Law Updates Webinar
College and Career Readiness
This public act creates sections 10-20.83 and 34-18.78 of the School Code to address college and career readiness systems and makes related amendments to the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act of 2016. Under the Act, schools enrolling students in any of grades 6 through 12 are required to adopt and implement career exploration and career development activities for such grades by July 1, 2025. Such activities must be provided in accordance with a postsecondary and career expectations framework for each grade that substantially aligns to the model framework set forth in the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act. The local framework must be available on a prominent location on the school or district’s website. The activities offered must prepare students “to make informed plans and decisions about their future education and career goals, including possible participation in a career and technical pathway, by providing students with opportunities to explore a wide variety of high-skill, high-wage, and in-demand career fields.”
Additionally, the Act requires, by July 1, 2025, that schools that enroll students in grades 9 through 12 either (1) choose to implement a new “College and Career Pathway Endorsements” program and become an eligible school to award College and Career Pathway Endorsements pursuant to the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness Act on a particular schedule required by the Act; or (2) opt out of implementation of such a program. The Act specifies the process for electing to implement the endorsement program and the process for opting out of implementation, which requires adoption by the school board of a set of findings that considers certain factors related to career and college readiness and reporting such findings to ISBE. The Act also requires ISBE to publish and maintain resources on its website aimed at supporting schools in implementing College and Career Pathway Endorsements and the additional requirements under the Act and allows ISBE to adopt administrative rules to implement the requirements.
Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act Amendment
This public act amends Section 3 of the Critical Health Problems and Comprehensive Health Education Act and Section 5 of the Children’s Mental Health Act of 2003. It requires that mental health instruction in elementary and secondary schools include how and where to find mental health treatment and resources within the state of Illinois. The Act further requires that the Children’s Mental Health Partnership, created to develop and monitor the State’s implementation of the Children’s Mental Health Plan (containing recommendations to provide comprehensive, coordinated mental health prevention, early intervention, and treatment services for children), include an adjunct council of no more than six youth between the ages of 14 and 25 and four representatives of four different community-based organizations focused on youth mental health, including at least one organization led by an LGBTQ-identifying person, one led by a person of color, and one led by a woman. Finally, at least one representative appointed to the council from the community-based organizations must identify as LGBTQ, one representative must be a person of color, and at least one representative must be a woman. The council, appointed by the Chair of the Partnership, must meet at least four times a year and make certain recommendations to the Partnership regarding youth mental health.
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT
Employment History Review and Parental Notification of Sexual Misconduct
This public act is a trailer bill to Faith’s Law, amending various sections of the School Code, and adding two new sections that require public and nonpublic schools to conduct a new employment history review process and procedures for notifying parents regarding sexual misconduct between an educator and the parent’s child. The Act creates Section 22-94 of the School Code that lays out detailed requirements for public schools, nonpublic schools, and independent contractors to conduct an employment history review prior to hiring an applicant to work in a position involving direct contact with children or students. It also creates Section 22-85.10 of the School Code, which requires the governing body of each school district, charter school, or nonpublic school to implement a procedure to provide notice of an alleged act of sexual misconduct between an educator and student to the parent or guardian of the student and notice of when any formal action is taken relating to the employment of the alleged perpetrator following an investigation of sexual misconduct.
The Act also requires that the superintendent of an employing school board inform the State Superintendent of Education, as well as the applicable regional superintendent of schools, if they have reasonable cause to believe that a licensed employee committed an act of sexual misconduct directed toward or with a student resulting in the employee’s dismissal or resignation from the school district. It also permits the State Superintendent of Education to initiate licensure suspension or revocation for an employee’s act of sexual misconduct with a student. For more information on Faith’s Law, please see our previous alert, and past and upcoming webinars discussing these topics.
Family Bereavement Leave
This public act amends the Child Bereavement Leave Act, now called the Family Bereavement Leave Act, to extend unpaid bereavement leave to employees experiencing pregnancy loss, ineffective fertility treatment, a diagnosis negatively affecting pregnancy or fertility, as well as unsuccessful adoption or surrogacy plans. Specifically, employers must now provide unpaid leave for several circumstances surrounding loss of a child including a miscarriage, an unsuccessful reproductive assistance procedure, a failed adoption match or contested adoption, a failed surrogacy arrangement, diagnoses negatively impacting pregnancy or fertility, and a stillbirth. The amendment also expands bereavement leave coverage under the Act to now include bereavement of “covered family members,” including an employee’s child, stepchild, spouse, domestic partner, sibling, parent, mother-in-law, father-in-law, grandchild, grandparent, or stepparent.
Workers’ Rights Amendment
In the most recent election, Illinois voters approved Illinois Constitution Amendment 1, which amends the Illinois Constitution to protect collective bargaining rights. A more comprehensive analysis of how this Constitutional Amendment may impact Illinois public and private sector employers will be available here.
This public act created the Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act (“CROWN Act”), which extends the prohibition on hairstyle discrimination to covered situations under the Illinois Human Rights Act, including employment. Specifically, the CROWN Act expands and clarifies the definition of “race” to include traits associated with race, including but not limited to, hair texture and protective hairstyles.
The Act also amends the circumstances in which the Department may have jurisdiction over places of public accommodation that are a “non-sectarian nursery, day care center, elementary, secondary, undergraduate or postgraduate school, or other place of education.” Previously, Section 5-102.2 limited such jurisdiction, in part, to “the denial of access to facilities, goods or services.” The Act amends this provision to now limit such jurisdiction, in part, to “the denial or refusal of full and equal enjoyment of facilities, goods, or services.”
Minimum Wage Increase
As described in a previous alert, Governor Pritzker signed Senate Bill 1 into law on February 19, 2019, which increases the minimum wage in Illinois to $15 per hour by 2025. Under the law, minimum wage increases occur incrementally until 2025. One of the wage increases went into effect on January 1, 2023, raising the minimum wage from $12 an hour to $13 an hour.
Substitute Teaching License Requirements
This public act amends Section 21B-20 of the School Code regarding requirements for a Substitute Teaching License. Previously, only applicants that held a bachelor’s degree or higher were issued a Substitute Teaching License. Public Act 102-0711 now allows applicants without a bachelor’s degree or higher to obtain a Substitute Teaching License if they are enrolled in an approved educator preparation program in the state of Illinois and have earned at least 90 credit hours. This change in eligibility is specific to Substitute Teaching Licenses and does not extend to Short Term Substitute Teaching Licenses. As the Charter School Law requires charter schools to employ instructional personnel who are either licensed under Article 21B of the School Code or who possess certain qualifications, and requires that a certain percentage of the individuals employed in instructional positions by a charter school hold teaching licenses issued under Article 21B, this public act may affect eligible substitute teachers for charter schools.
Relatedly, P.A. 102-0712, which became effective April 27, 2022, changes the number of consecutive days an individual holding a Short-Term Substitute Teaching License may teach from 5 to 15. Specifically, an individual holding this license may now teach up to 15 consecutive days per licensed teacher. Additionally, P.A. 102-712 allows school districts to hire an individual holding a Short-Term Substitute Teaching License for teacher absences that last 6 or more days per licensed teacher if the Governor has declared a disaster due to a public health emergency.
Paraprofessional Educator Endorsement
This public act amends Sections 21B-15 and 21B-20 of the School Code to permit applicants who are at least 18 years old to be issued a paraprofessional educator endorsement on an Educator License with Stipulations only until the individual turns 19 years old and so long as the applicant otherwise meets the criteria for a paraprofessional educator endorsement and uses the Educator License with Stipulations exclusively for grades prekindergarten through grade 8. As the Charter School Law requires charter schools to employ instructional personnel who are either licensed under Article 21B of the School Code or who possess certain qualifications, and requires that a certain percentage of the individuals employed in instructional positions by a charter school hold teaching licenses issued under Article 21B, this public act may affect eligible paraprofessionals for charter schools.
STUDENT HEALTH & SAFETY
Student Confidential Reporting Act
This public act creates the Student Confidential Reporting Act, which establishes a school safety tip line in Illinois called Safe2HelpIL for the purpose of receiving reports from the public regarding potential self-harm or potential harm or criminal acts directed at students, school employees, or schools in Illinois. Subject to funds being appropriated for the program, the Act requires the Illinois State Police, in consultation with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, ISBE, Department of Human Services, and Department of Children and Family Services, to establish the reporting program. Among other stipulations, the Act requires, once Safe2Help Illinois is operational, that any State or locally operated school violence help line already established work with Safe2Help Illinois as needed.
Additionally, the Act requires that Illinois State Police oversee the program and provides that reports and information, including any analysis of the potential threat as determined appropriate by the Illinois State Police, be directed to local law enforcement officials and school officials. It further requires that the Illinois State Police ensure that call center staff as well as program employees be trained in the areas of crisis management, available resources for providing mental health services, matters relevant to the program’s operation, and handling criminal intelligence information such as storing and sharing data. The Act includes requirements for maintaining the confidentiality of any reports or information submitted to the program and the circumstances under which such reports or information may be shared, including any reports or information forwarded to a law enforcement official or school official. Additionally, the program manager for Safe2Help Illinois, in collaboration with the Illinois State Police and ISBE, must prepare an annual report. Finally, the Act amends the Juvenile Court Act to allow disclosure of juvenile law enforcement records to a school official if the agency or officer believes that there is “an imminent threat of physical harm to students, school personnel, or others,” no longer limiting such disclosure to when others are present in the school or on school grounds.
Definition of Mandated Reporter Under Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act
This public act amends the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act to extend the list of mandated reporters to include physical therapists, physical therapy assistants, occupational therapists, occupational therapy assistants, and athletic trainers.
Latex Glove Ban Act
This public act creates the Latex Glove Ban Act, which requires that food service establishments, including schools, prohibit employees from using latex gloves when preparing or handling food. This ban goes into effect on January 1, 2023. Should latex gloves be used due to the food service establishment’s inability to provide nonlatex gloves, a sign must be clearly placed where food is ordered or purchased notifying the public of the temporary change. Under the Act, the Department of Public Health must send a warning notice to food service establishments who are not in compliance with the Act. Additionally, EMS personnel are not permitted to use latex gloves on or after January 1, 2023, and health care facility personnel are not permitted to use latex gloves beginning on January 1, 2024 if the patient upon whom the gloves are to be used is unconscious or unable to communicate and whose medical history lacks sufficient information to indicate whether the patient has a latex allergy. However, should a crisis occur limiting the ability to source nonlatex gloves, these personnel are permitted to use latex gloves if necessary but must prioritize use of nonlatex gloves for treating specific patients.
This public act amends various sections of the School Code related to school fees. The amendment first amends the Definitions section of the School Code to define school fees as “any monetary charge collected by a public school, school district, or charter school from a student or the parents or guardian of a student as a prerequisite for the student’s participation in any curricular or extracurricular program of the school or school district as defined under [23 Ill. Admin. Code § 1.245(a)(1), (2)].” Related to school fees and fines, the amendment further specifies that children and youth classified as homeless under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act qualify for waiver of fees and fines and requires for such students, and any other students whose parents are unable to afford them, the waiver of any fines for the loss of school property. Additionally, the Act requires notice of waiver availability be given to parents or guardians with every bill for fees or fines. It also permits school boards that establish a waiver eligibility process independent from a student’s application for the federal school-based nutrition program to initiate a fee waiver verification process no more than once every academic year, as opposed to the previously permitted once every 60 days.
Additionally, the Act amends the School Code provision prohibiting any discrimination or punishment of a student as a result of the student’s parents or guardians being unable to purchase required textbooks or instructional materials or to pay required fees, and now expressly prohibits “the withholding of student records, transcripts, or diplomas” as a result of a student’s parent’s inability to pay such fees. Prior to this amendment, only the lowering of grades and exclusion from class were expressly listed as impermissible. Finally, the Act amends Section 27A of the School Code to specify that charter schools are not exempt from the above-referenced provisions related to school fees and fines.