Legislative News

  • Thursday, March 01, 2018 8:34 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

     Please also read the summary of the bill below and contact your State Senator in opposition to it.  This bill eliminates the state regulations that govern class size.  This bill is in the Senate Education Committee.

    Senate Bill 2855-Tracy.  Amends the School Code. With regard to class sizes of general education classes for special education students and special education classes for special education students, provides that the State Board of Education shall have no authority to adopt any administrative rules that establish or limit the class size or ratio of the student population of a general education class for students receiving services in general education classes or a special education class beyond what may be required by federal rule or law, unless the State Board of Education fully funds the cost of additional teachers and other staff that are required by a class-size limitation; defines "special education class". Provides that any rule in effect on the effective date of the amendatory Act establishing or limiting the class size or ratio of the student population of a general education class for special education students receiving services in general education classes or establishing or limiting the class size of a special education class is hereby null and void.  Senate Education.

  • Tuesday, February 20, 2018 5:25 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The following list was prepared by Bev Johns

    House Bill 4193—Parkhurst. Amends the Children with Disabilities Article of the School Code. With respect to an impartial due process hearing, changes when the hearing officer must issue his or her written decision from within 10 days to within 10 business days after the conclusion of the hearing. Effective immediately.  Second Reading House.

    House Bill 4369—Sommer. Amends the School Code. Provides that the State Board of Education shall develop and maintain a handbook to be made available on its Internet website that provides guidance for pupils, parents or guardians, and teachers on the subject of dyslexia. Specifies handbook requirements. Provides that the State Board shall review the handbook once every 4 years to update, if necessary, the guidelines, educational strategies, or resources and services made available in the handbook. Effective immediately.  House Rules.

    House Bill 4409—Pritchard and Crespo.  Amends the School Code. In the Article governing children with disabilities, provides that, amongst other meanings, a "school psychologist" means a person who holds a valid Nationally Certified School Psychologist credential (rather than certificate). Removes from the definition of "school psychologist" the requirement that a psychologist have additional qualifications as may be required by the State Board of Education. Effective immediately.  House Elementary and Secondary Education:  Licensing Administration and Oversight.

    House Bill 4524—C. D. Davidsmeyer.  Amends the School Code. With respect to school districts other than the Chicago school district, provides that at least once every 2 years at an in-service training program or at another appropriate time when school personnel are scheduled to be in attendance and in addition to other topics covered at training throughout the school year, school personnel who work with pupils in grades kindergarten through 12 and are employed by the school district shall be trained to identify the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior in youth and shall be taught appropriate intervention and referral techniques (instead of providing that in addition to other topics at in-service training programs, school guidance counselors, teachers, school social workers, and other school personnel who work with pupils in grades 7 through 12 shall be trained to identify the warning signs of mental illness and suicidal behavior in adolescents and teens and shall be taught appropriate intervention and referral techniques). Makes similar changes with respect to the Chicago school district. Effective immediately.  House Rules.

    House Bill 5241—Will Davis. Amends the Children with Disabilities Article of the School Code. Provides that, in a school district with a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, the principal and all school personnel who are regular members of an individualized education program team shall determine the special education staffing needs of the school based on individualized education program minutes, status of the school's least restrictive environment, optimal scheduling protocols, and other relevant factors. Provides that once a staffing level is set, the school board shall provide full staffing for the school and shall fund the total cost of each position. Provides that the school board may not reduce the special education staffing levels of a school in which the general staffing levels are less than 90% of the State average. Provides that the school board may require more efficient staff scheduling if the scheduling does not impair or hinder any reasonable goals of the school's general education program. Prohibits the school district from banning the use of any measure that would prevent or delay an individualized education program team from adding a service to the program or creating a time restriction in which a service is prohibited from being added to the program. Makes other changes. Effective July 1, 2018.  House Rules.

    House Bill 5249—Dan Brady. Amends the Children with Disabilities Article of the School Code. Provides that the parent or guardian of a child with disabilities who resides in a school district shall have the option of enrolling the child in a school district in which the child was previously enrolled as long as that school district is, in whole or in part, within the county in which the child currently resides. Requires the school district in which the child currently resides to grant proper permit to the child's parent or guardian to allow the child to enroll in a school district outside of the district in which he or she resides. Sets forth provisions concerning special education reimbursement, evidence-based funding apportionment, and transportation costs. Effective immediately.  House Rules.

    House Bill 5347—M. Evans. Amends the Early Intervention Services System Act. Requires the Department of Human Services and the Illinois State Board of Education to jointly develop and implement a State policy under which parents of children with disabilities who previously received early intervention services under the Act may choose the continuation of those services until such children reach the age of 5 or enter, or are eligible under State law to enter, kindergarten. Provides that implementation of the new policy shall be contingent on the Department (i) holding public hearings as provided under the Act and (ii) complying with all applicable federal requirements. Effective January 1, 2019.  House Rules.

    House Bill 5601—Conyears—Ervin.  Amends the School Code. Provides that, at least once every 2 years, a school board shall conduct an in-service training program for all school personnel on the identification of special needs in students and shall be taught appropriate referral techniques. Effective immediately. House Rules.

    House Bill 5770—Conroy.  Amends the School Code. Provides that, beginning with the 2018-2019 school year, a school board shall notify students and the parents or guardians of students, electronically or in the form of a letter, that a student may be eligible to receive mental health services from the school district under a federal Section 504 plan. Effective immediately. House Rules.

    House Bill 5796—Chapa LaVia. Amends the School Code. Provides that a school report card prepared by the State Board of Education shall include the most current data on the percentage of students, by grade level, who have individualized education programs or federal Section 504 plans and who are chronically absent. Effective July 1, 2018.  House Rules.

    House Bill 5812—Will Davis. Amends the School Code. With regard to property tax relief pool grants, provides that each year, the State Board of Education shall set a threshold above which a school district may apply for property tax relief. Provides that the intended relief may not be greater than 1% of the EAV for a unit district, 0.69% of the EAV for an elementary school district, or 0.31% of the EAV for a high school district; defines "EAV". Provides that the total property tax relief allowable to a school district shall be calculated based on the total amount of reduction in the school district's aggregate extension. With regard to evidence-based funding, provides that when a school district withdraws from a special education cooperative, the portion of the base funding minimum that is attributable to the school district may be redistributed to the school district upon withdrawal. Provides that the school district and the cooperative must include the amount of the base funding minimum that is to be re-apportioned in their withdrawal agreement and notify the State Board of Education of the change with a copy of the agreement upon withdrawal. Repeals a provision governing the basis for apportionment of general State financial aid and supplemental general State aid to the common schools for the 1998-1999 through the 2016-2017 school years. Makes other changes. Effective immediately. House Rules.

    House Bill 5812—Will Davis. Amends the School Code. With regard to property tax relief pool grants, provides that each year, the State Board of Education shall set a threshold above which a school district may apply for property tax relief. Provides that the intended relief may not be greater than 1% of the EAV for a unit district, 0.69% of the EAV for an elementary school district, or 0.31% of the EAV for a high school district; defines "EAV". Provides that the total property tax relief allowable to a school district shall be calculated based on the total amount of reduction in the school district's aggregate extension. With regard to evidence-based funding, provides that when a school district withdraws from a special education cooperative, the portion of the base funding minimum that is attributable to the school district may be redistributed to the school district upon withdrawal. Provides that the school district and the cooperative must include the amount of the base funding minimum that is to be re-apportioned in their withdrawal agreement and notify the State Board of Education of the change with a copy of the agreement upon withdrawal. Repeals a provision governing the basis for apportionment of general State financial aid and supplemental general State aid to the common schools for the 1998-1999 through the 2016-2017 school years. Makes other changes. Effective immediately. House Rules.

    Senate Bill 2468—Koehler.  Amends the Children with Disabilities Article of the School Code. With regard to individualized education programs, provides that if a child's individualized education program team determines that the child does not require assistive technology services or devices, the team shall include a statement in the child's program that informs the child's parent or guardian of the decision and the basis for the decision. Effective immediately. Senate Education.

    Senate Bill 2855-Tracy.  Amends the School Code. With regard to class sizes of general education classes for special education students and special education classes for special education students, provides that the State Board of Education shall have no authority to adopt any administrative rules that establish or limit the class size or ratio of the student population of a general education class for students receiving services in general education classes or a special education class beyond what may be required by federal rule or law, unless the State Board of Education fully funds the cost of additional teachers and other staff that are required by a class-size limitation; defines "special education class". Provides that any rule in effect on the effective date of the amendatory Act establishing or limiting the class size or ratio of the student population of a general education class for special education students receiving services in general education classes or establishing or limiting the class size of a special education class is hereby null and void.  Senate Assignments.

    Senate Bill 3015—Koehler. Amends the School Code. With regard to the self-administration and self-carry of asthma medication, provides that a school district, public school, charter school, or nonpublic school may authorize a school nurse or trained personnel to (i) provide undesignated asthma medication to a student for self-administration only or to any personnel authorized under a student's Individual Health Care Action Plan or asthma action plan, plan pursuant to Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or individualized education program plan to administer to the student that meets the student's prescription on file, (ii) administer an undesignated asthma medication that meets the prescription on file to any student who has an Individual Health Care Action Plan or asthma action plan, plan pursuant to Section 504 of the federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973, or individualized education program plan that authorizes the use of asthma medication; and (iii) administer an undesignated asthma medication to any person that the school nurse or trained personnel believes in good faith is having respiratory distress; defines "undesignated asthma medication" and "respiratory distress". Changes the definition of "asthma medication" to mean quick-relief asthma medication that is approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of respiratory distress. Provides that a school nurse or trained personnel may administer undesignated asthma medication to any person whom the school nurse or trained personnel in good faith believes to be experiencing respiratory distress (i) while in school, (ii) while at a school-sponsored activity, (iii) while under the supervision of school personnel, or (iv) before or after normal school activities. Provides that a school district, public school, charter school, or nonpublic school may maintain a supply of an asthma medication in any secure location where a person is most at risk. Provides that a training curriculum to recognize and respond to respiratory distress may be conducted online or in person. Specifies training requirements. Makes other changes. Effective immediately.  Senate Assignments.

    Senate Bill 3466—Lightford.  Amends the School Code. Requires a school district to make reasonable efforts to provide ongoing professional development to teachers, administrators, school board members, school resource officers, and staff on the appropriate and available supportive services for the promotion of student attendance and engagement. In the Article governing compulsory attendance of pupils, provides that the term "valid cause" for absence incudes when a person who has custody or control of a child withholds the child from school due to a bona fide dispute over special education services or placement that is being addressed through the child's individualized education program, federal Section 504 plan, mediation, or a due process hearing. Provides that a school district may not refer a truant, chronic truant, or truant minor to any other local public entity for the purpose of issuing the child a fine or fee as punishment for the child's absence from school; defines "local public entity." Allows a school district to refer any person having custody or control of a truant, chronic truant, or truant minor to any other local public entity for the purpose of issuing the person a fine or fee for the child's absence from school if all appropriate and available supportive services have been exhausted and the person has knowingly and willfully permitted the child's truant behavior to continue.  Senate Assignments.

    Senate Bill 3514—Mattie Hunter.  Amends the Children with Disabilities Article of the School Code. Provides that, in a school district with a population of more than 500,000 inhabitants, the principal and all school personnel who are regular members of an individualized education program team shall determine the special education staffing needs of the school based on individualized education program minutes, status of the school's least restrictive environment, optimal scheduling protocols, and other relevant factors. Provides that once a staffing level is set, the school board shall provide full staffing for the school and shall fund the total cost of each position. Provides that the school board may not reduce the special education staffing levels of a school in which the general staffing levels are less than 90% of the State average. Provides that the school board may require more efficient staff scheduling if the scheduling does not impair or hinder any reasonable goals of the school's general education program. Prohibits the school district from banning the use of any measure that would prevent or delay an individualized education program team from adding a service to the program or creating a time restriction in which a service is prohibited from being added to the program. Makes other changes. Effective July 1, 2018.  Senate Assignments.

    Senate Bill 3579—Lightford.  Amends the School Code. Requires a school district to make reasonable efforts to provide ongoing professional development to teachers, administrators, school board members, school resource officers, and staff on the appropriate and available supportive services for the promotion of student attendance and engagement. In the Article governing compulsory attendance of pupils, provides that the term "valid cause" for absence incudes when a person who has custody or control of a child withholds the child from school due to a bona fide dispute over special education services or placement that is being addressed through the child's individualized education program, federal Section 504 plan, mediation, or a due process hearing. Provides that a school district may not refer a truant, chronic truant, or truant minor to any other local public entity for the purpose of issuing the child a fine or fee as punishment for the child's absence from school; defines "local public entity." Allows a school district to refer any person having custody or control of a truant, chronic truant, or truant minor to a local public entity for the purpose of issuing the child a fine or fee for the child's absence from school if all appropriate and available supportive services have been exhausted and the person has knowingly and willfully permitted the child's truant behavior to continue.  Senate Assignments.


  • Friday, November 27, 2015 12:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    OPPOSE PAY FOR SUCCESS IN ESEA

    On Tuesday, November 17, 2015, the U.S. House voted to go to Conference Committee with the U.S. Senate on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA  - which used to be called No Child Left Behind) to write a final version of the legislation. 

    On November 5, 2015, the Executive Board of the Illinois Council for Exceptional Children voted to oppose the Pay for Success permissive funding that is in both the House Bill (H.R. 5) and in the Senate Bill (S. 1177) to allow the use of Federal funds by States and by local school districts for Pay for Success. 

    In Chicago and in Utah, Pay for Success pays investors Goldman Sachs and the Pritzker Family  for each child NOT identified as needing special education. Utah claims a 99% success rate.

    • This program creates a disincentive for schools to identify students that need specialized and individualized education. It is a violation of the Federal special education law, IDEA, that mandates schools identify all students in need of special education.

    • Pay for Success funding is more like a high interest (to 100% or more) loan than a bond.

    • Through this program private investors are paid EACH YEAR if students are not identified as needing special education. It commits school funds to paying private investors for NOT having to provide special education services in the future.

    • The annual pay back to investors (escrow payments as well as yearly payments for each student not identified as needing special education services) is exorbitant. As structured in Chicago and Utah, investors would make money, possibly doubling their investment in Pay for Success, forcing schools to use an increasingly large percentage of future local, State and Federal money it receives to provide services to do just the opposite, NOT provide services to students.

    There are no objective ways of determining which students may be in need of special education in the future and thus eligible to participate in Pay for Success. 

    What can YOU do?
    (1) Share this email. Most people are not aware of Pay for Success.
    Most people (even in D.C.) are not aware Pay for Success is in both
    the House and Senate ESEA bills, and will be in the FINAL ESEA
    bill unless a determined effort is made to remove it.
    (2) Contact any National organization to which you belong.
    Ask them what they are doing about Pay for Success in ESEA.
    Ask them if they know what is happening in Utah and in Chicago
    on paying investors in Pay for Success for each child NOT identified
    for special education.
    Ask them is they are aware that Utah claims it is stopping 99 percent
    of children at risk of being identified as needing special education
    from actually entering special education.
    (3) Call U.S. Senators from Illinois Richard Durbin ( 202.224.2152202.224.2152 202.224.2152202.224.2152    202.224.2152202.224.2152 202.224.2152202.224.2152    ) 
    and Mark Kirk ( 202-224-2854202-224-2854 202-224-2854202-224-2854    202-224-2854202-224-2854 202-224-2854202-224-2854    ) and your U.S. Representative. 
    Ask them to help you get Pay for Success removed from ESEA 
    in the Conference Committee on S. 1177.
    (4) Share this message with friends/relatives in other States.

    Our Senator, Mark Kirk, is a member of ESEA Conference Committee -
    Ask Illinois U.S. Senator Mark Kirk to make a motion in Conference Committee to remove Pay for Success from S. 1177. Contact Kirk immediately  at 
    http://www.kirk.senate.gov/?p=federal_agency_help 
    or by calling (call no later than Thursday morning)  202-224-2854202-224-2854 202-224-2854202-224-2854  .

    Pay for Success is being used in Chicago to pay Goldman Sachs
    and the Pritzkers $9,100 for each child NOT being identified for
    special education.   S. 1177 would allow the use of Federal funds
    for Pay for Success. Please REMOVE that provision.  Parents and 
    children do NOT need anyone making it more difficult to get needed 
    special ed services. 


    Bev Johns, Chair
    Governmental Relations Committee
    Illinois Council for Exceptional Children (Illinois CEC)


  • Sunday, October 18, 2015 10:48 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Special education advocate Bev Johns has written here warning about the impact of Social Impact Bonds on special education services.

    What are Social Impact Bonds (SIBs)?

    They have become a favorite privatization tool of corporate Democrats and others.

    Wall Street loves them.

    Also known as Pay for Success programs in which Wall Street investors, often using funding from private philanthropies, invest in social programs which once were funded directly by the government. The aim is to reduce government costs by offering profits to Wall Street.

    The profit increases for investors when schools reduce the number of students who receive special education services:

    When it comes to special education programs and SIBs, success is quantified by counting how many special needs students are moved out of the programs and how many have services removed or denied.

    It is just the opposite of what we have fought in favor of for decades. For those of us who have taught Special Needs students, either as general education teachers, special subject teachers or special education teachers, we look at success as meaning accurately identifying the needs of individual students, providing evidence for those needs, and getting service and support to those students. We never considered that if we determined there was a continuing need to provide services to a student it meant we failed.

    We don’t look at special education students in the aggregate. That is the opposite of the essence of the IEP, the Individualized Educational Program.

    To make matters worse, SIBS have been included in the reauthorization of ESEA/NCLB.

    The Senate reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (ESEA) includes an amendment by Senator Orrin Hatch that rewards investors in bonds if schools reduce special education enrollments.

    We need to let every national organization that we belong to know that we oppose the concept of paying Goldman Sachs and other investors for every child that avoids special education (what Sen. Hatch calls Pay-for-Success).


  • Thursday, January 29, 2015 3:47 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    In a departure of past practices reaching back 
    at least three decades, elementary and secondary 
    education policy will be guided by three committees 
    rather than the single House Elementary and Secondary 
    Education Committee that [State Rep. Linda] Chapa 
    LaVia so ably chaired in recent years.

    No one is a greater champion  of charter schools than our new Gov. Bruce Rauner. Also, charters now have their own committee - the Elementary and Secondary Education: Charter School Policy Committee of the Illinois House of Representatives.
     
    ....the committee may be either a positive or a negative from the charter advocates' standpoint. When you look over the list of Democrats who are members (Republican's aren't yet appointed), you see critics of the charter movement in leadership positions and public school advocates up and down the line.
     
    The charter agenda this year is sure to include: (1) lifting or removing the statutory limits on the number of charters that can be authorized in the state; (2) boosting the funds received by charters from the school districts where they operate; and (3) fending off efforts to dissolve the Illinois State Charter School Commission.
     
    The Commission was created in haste when the state was competing for federal "Race To The Top" funding. It's members are appointed by the State Board of Education from a list of candidates submitted by the governor. It has the authority to put a charter school in your town - even if your elected school board has turned the charter down.
     
    That's right. Local control means nothing in Illinois when it comes to the ability of a commission that was appointed by a board that was appointed to trump the collective wisdom of a locally elected board of education. And Rauner, the state's number-one fan of charters, now gets to appoint a majority of the SBE.
     
    But back to the House committee, the chair is Rep. Esther Golar of Chicago, a former CPS Local School Council member and ardent advocate of "neighborhood" schools. The vice chair is Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia of Aurora, who did her best last year, as House committee chair, to dissolve the Charter School Commission.
     
    There's Rep. Deborah Conroy, former school board member from Villa Park; Rep. Camille Lilly of Chicago, a community activist on several fronts; Michelle Mussman, a PTA leader from Schaumburg; Rep. Sue Sherer, a public school teacher from Decatur; Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, a former school board member from Westchester; and Rep. Kathleen Willis of Northlake, former Addison elementary school board member.
     
    The next largest is the Elementary and Secondary Education: Licensing Oversight Committee, which is to be chaired by Rep. Emily McAsey of Romeoville (former middle school teacher), with Rep. Robert Martwick of Chicago as vice chair. Chapa LaVia is a member of this committee, as is Rep. Dan Burke of Chicago, a thoughtful and gracious proponent of increased charter school funding.
     
    Rounding out the Democratic membership of the licensing oversight panel are Rep. Monique Davis of Chicago, a veteran legislator and former CPS teacher; Rep. Scott Drury, a lawyer of Highwood and author of some thought-provoking bills; and Rep. Anna Moeller of Elgin, former officer of an elementary school PTO.
     
    The Republican caucus will probably put four members on this committee.
     
    Finally, the other new committee is the Elementary and Secondary Education: Curriculum & School Policies Committee, which will be chaired by Rep. Rita Mayfield of Waukegan (former Waukegan School Board member) with Rep. Sherer as vice chair. House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie is also on the committee.
     
    When you think about it, the scope of this committee's mission will be pretty large for it to have just three members. 

    Curriculum is a narrow enough concept, but it is hugely important. 

    "School policies" is about as wide as a mission can be. 

    It would cover everything a local school board is authorized (or not) to do.
     
    The presence of Rep. Currie on this committee is also curious. She is second only to Speaker Michael Madigan in House leadership. For many years, she has sponsored the most complicated and emotionally charged controversial bills in every legislative session. Her expertise seems to know no limits, much like her eloquence.
     
    Still, Currie is no stranger to School Code policy. It was under her sponsorship and guidance, for example, that Illinois first began to develop high quality early childhood education programs back in 1985.
    Jim Broadway, Illinois School News Service, January 29, 2015


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Professionals in Learning Disabilities and Special Education is a not-for-profit organization offering continuing education programs to inform members of current instructional practices, assessment, and policy issues in the field of learning disabilities.  PLD/SE also offers a referral service to the community, providing qualified professionals for diagnostics and remediation.  PLD/SE provides programs as a service to its members.  PLD/SE does not endorse any specific program, speaker, instructional materials, method, treatment, or evaluation center for children with disabilities.  

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