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Reminders and Resources for Erin’s Law Training and Faith’s Law Requirements for 2023-2024 School Year

Higher Education K-12 Education

The new legal requirements under Erin’s Law and Faith’s Law will be in full effect as schools begin the 2023-2024 school year. As we have previously reported, under new School Code amendments made by Faith’s Law and Erin’s law aimed to address sexual abuse prevention and response in schools, school districts, charter and non-public schools are required to implement new training, policy and procedural requirements, with all of these being in full effect as of July 1, 2023. With administrative teams already preparing for staff in-service trainings and ensuring appropriate procedures are in place for the upcoming school year, we provide below a summary of these new training, policy and procedural requirements, and the resources Franczek offers to assist schools with complying with these new mandates. 

Annual All-Staff Training Requirement for School Districts

By January 31 of each year, school districts must provide training for school personnel on child sexual abuse, including evidence-informed training on preventing, recognizing, reporting and responding to child sexual abuse and grooming behavior. The training must address responding to child sexual abuse, including when the grooming or abuse is committed by a member of the school community, with a discussion of the criminal statutes addressing sexual conduct between school personnel and students, professional conduct and reporting requirements, and must include additional related training outlined in other School Code provisions.  

Franczek has prepared training specifically tailored to assist districts with complying with this annual training requirement. Given the need to train all staff, our firm offers both live training options – in person or virtual – as well as on-demand training options. For questions about the training requirement, Franczek’s training options, or to schedule a training with our attorneys for the upcoming school year, please contact the author of this alert or your Franczek attorney. 

Parent Notification Procedures for All Illinois schools – Effective July 1, 2023 

Effective July 1, 2023, the governing body of all school districts, charter schools, and nonpublic schools must implement a procedure under which notice is provided to the parents or guardians of an enrolled student with whom an employee, agent of the school, or a contractor of the school is alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct. The School Code also requires that the governing body implement a procedure under which notice is provided to a student’s parent or guardian when any formal action has been taken by the governing body relating to the alleged perpetrator’s employment following the investigation of sexual misconduct, including whether employment was terminated or whether the governing body accepted the resignation of the employee. The procedure for each notification must include timing considerations for those cases also being investigated by DCFS or law enforcement, and must provide for initial notification to the student, in a developmentally appropriate manner, that such notice to their parent or guardian will be made, along with available resources for the student (unless the school deems it necessary to not provide such notification to the student due to an imminent risk of serious physical injury or death). The procedure must also include the particular requirements for the contents of the parental notice, including notice of the alleged misconduct or board action and of available resources to the student. Such notice must be provided as soon as feasible after the employing entity becomes aware of the alleged misconduct or action. For notification of employment action, such notification must include whether a report concerning the alleged misconduct was or will be submitted to the State Superintendent of Education and the applicable ROE, and must be provided even for those students no longer enrolled at the time the formal action is taken. 

For questions or assistance with preparing these procedures and sample communications, please contact the author of this alert or your Franczek attorney. 

Employee History Review for All Illinois Schools – July 1, 2023 Effective Date 

Effective July 1, 2023, all public and nonpublic schools and contractors are required to conduct an employment history review of all applicants for employment who will have direct contact with children or students. Schools are prohibited from hiring an applicant unless the employment history inquiry has been initiated and other requirements of the process have been completed. As a result, schools preparing for the hiring process for the upcoming school year are already conducting this new involved process utilizing the templates prepared by the Illinois State Board of Education. See our previous update and recent Franczek webinar for the full details regarding these requirements, and reach out to your Franczek attorney for additional support.  

Employee Code of Professional Conduct Policy – Required for all Illinois Schools 

As a reminder, as of of July 1, 2022, the School Code requires all school districts, charter schools, and nonpublic schools to develop an employee code of professional conduct policy that addresses all of the following:   

  • Incorporates the Code of Ethics for Illinois Educators (23 Ill.Admin.Code 22.20)  
  • Incorporates the definition of “sexual misconduct” as defined in 105 ILCS 5/22-85.5   
  • Identifies the expectations for employees and agents regarding how to maintain a professional relationship with students, including the expectations for staff-student boundaries, recognizing the age and developmental level of the students served, and establishes guidelines for the following situations:  
    • Transporting a student  
    • Taking or possessing a photo or a video of a student  
    • Meeting with a student or contacting a student outside of the employee’s or agent’s professional role  
    • References the employee reporting requirements required under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act and under Title IX of the federal Education Amendments of 1972  
    • References required employee training that is related to child abuse and  educator ethics that are applicable under State and federal law   

Additionally, school districts, charter schools and nonpublic, nonsectarian schools must include a copy of their new employee code of professional conduct policy in any staff, student or school handbook. School districts, charter schools and nonpublic schools must also post a copy of their new policy on their website.    

Franczek has recommended language and sample policies to help support schools with meeting this new requirement. For more information, please contact the author of this alert.  

Additional Handbook and Policy Language Requirements for School Districts 

  • New Handbook Language: As a reminder, Erin’s Law also requires all school districts provide evidence-informed educational information to parents or guardians in “the school handbook” on the warning signs of a child being abused, along with any needed assistance, referral, or resource information. Contact us for sample handbook language or questions about this requirement. 
  • Policy Addressing Sexual Abuse of Children: Under the amended School Code provision 10-23.13, school districts must also adopt and implement a policy addressing sexual abuse of children. The policy must include an age-appropriate and evidence-informed curriculum for students in pre-k through 12th grade, evidence-informed training for school personnel, evidence-informed educational information to parents or guardians as well as any needed assistance, referral or resource information, available counseling and resources for students affected by sexual abuse, and emotional and educational support for a child to continue to be successful in school. The policy must also include materials and instruction on prohibited grooming behaviors and boundary violations for school personnel and how to report such behaviors, and must address specific related topics outlined in the School Code.   

Training Support, Sample Policy and Handbook Language

As explained above, Franczek offers in-person, virtual and on-demand training options to help districts comply with the new annual training requirement under Erin’s Law. We also have recommended language and sample policies to meet the new policy and handbook language requirements. For more information on the trainings we can offer your district, or our sample policy  and handbook language, please contact the author of this alert or your Franczek attorney.