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GOVERNMENT RELATIONS


Alliance Legislative Report 97-66

Distributed via Email: December 19, 2012

SCHOOL SAFETY A HIGH PRIORITY

In the wake of the tragedy last week in Newtown, Connecticut, school safety has become the main topic of conversation across the country, and rightly so. It goes without saying that locally elected school board members and school district administration places the safety and health of their students as their highest priority.

Tuesday, Governor Pat Quinn announced that the Illinois State Board of Education, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, and other state agencies will review existing programs for student protection and determine whether improvements can be made. He wants state agencies in Illinois to work together to assist local school districts and local law enforcement in reviewing procedures to aid in emergency response planning and to ensure that support is provided to local jurisdictions in a timely and efficient manner. Read the complete announcement by the governor here .

The Alliance welcomes the opportunity to work with the governor’s office and other officials to review the current laws on school district emergency preparedness.

CURRENT LAW

This is not the first time the Alliance has worked with the governor’s office, the law enforcement community and other organizations representing first responders on school safety issues. In 2005, the Alliance worked diligently on the legislation that became the School Safety Drill Act. This Act requires schools to have proper safety procedures in place, to regularly perform safety drills in schools, and to annually review the safety procedures with local emergency responders. The text of the School Safety Drill Act can be found here .

And the issue of school safety has been revisited more recently. Just this spring the legislature approved a bill that makes changes to the law regarding law enforcement officials providing student information to a school district. Law enforcement must provide information to the school if a student has committed certain infractions regarding drug laws, gun laws, or specific violent crimes if the officer believes that there is an imminent threat of physical harm to students, school personnel, or others who are present in the school. The legislation is now Public Act 97-1104, effective Jan. 1, 2013. Text of the law can be found here .

SCHOOL POLICY

The Illinois Association of School Boards’ PRESS Policy Service includes a sample policy on school safety programs. This policy has been in place previous to the events of last week; school districts that already are PRESS subscribers need not replace their current policy with the attachment. The attached document is simply a courtesy provided for school districts that may wish to review their current policy on school safety. For more specific information on the Administrative Procedures regarding school safety plans, safety drills, and the annual review, please contact bschwarm@iasb.com for a document with those procedures.

Additional information on responding to a tragedy in your school district can be found at the

Illinois Association of School Administrators’ website at: www.iasaedu.org .

OTHER REACTIONS TO NEWTOWN

The Illinois State Rifle Association suggested Tuesday that firearms and firearms training should be given to school employees. The proposal would allow teachers and other school district personnel to carry firearms in the school building in an effort to thwart future violent attacks on students.

The issues of gun control, school safety, school building security, and school safety drills will undoubtedly arise in the legislative session that reconvenes on January 2.

SCHOOL BOARD REORGANIZATION

After the school board election on April 9, 2013, the school board must hold the organizational meeting of the board within 28 days of the election. During the organizational meeting, the board elects officers and sets the regular meetings schedule. Even though state law does not state when newly elected board members take the oath of office, the School Code requires that they take the oath before taking their seats. Thus, the newly elected board members should take the oath of office before the board reorganizes (elects officers and sets a meeting calendar). The retiring board members carry over in their respective spots until the newly elected members take the oath. May 7 is the last day that a school board may reorganize in 2013. Adjourning “die sine” isn’t a legal requirement but is fine as a tradition to denote the transition. More information can be found here .

FEDERAL LEGISLATION AND SCHOOL FUNDING

The National School Boards Action Center (NSBAC) has developed a short video that demonstrates the potential impact of Congressional budget cuts on education funding. NSBA is requesting local school districts to pass a resolution to urge Congress to spare education from possible drastic budget cuts at the Federal level. For more information, and for a sample board resolution, go here .

This legislative report is written and edited by the lobbyists of the Illinois Association of School Boards to provide information to the members of the organizations that comprise the Statewide School Management Alliance.

Bill Text/Status: Illinois General Assembly www.ilga.gov


Alliance Legislative Reports are Cosponsored by IASB and:
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