IASB Legislative Report 103-30

Delivered via email: April 5, 2024

The Week of Amendments

This week at the Capitol, only the House was in session. However, it was a busy week with a deadline to move bills out of committee by April 5. There was a flurry of action with many bills heard and most being held on second reading. That means that the sponsor wants to get the bill out of committee by the deadline but is committed to continue to work on concerns about the bill and promises to bring the bill back to committee with an amendment before it is called on the House floor. This allows the sponsors time to continue working with advocacy groups to amend bills while still meeting procedural deadlines.

Next week, both the House and the Senate will be in session. We expect it to be a very busy week, particularly on the Senate side, given that several Senate bills received committee extensions and that Senators have had a two-week break to work on their bills and file amendments. Additionally, the Senate has set its Third Reading deadline to get all Senate bills passed out of the chamber by April 12.

ACTION ALERT UPDATE – HB3907 (Stuart) Planning Time

IASB Governmental Relations staff, along with other school management groups, sent a Call to Action asking members to file a witness slip in opposition to HB3907 (Stuart) The bill would mandate essentially 45 minutes of uninterrupted preparation time per day for all educators. Over 1,000 witness slips were filed in opposition to the bill. Ultimately, the sponsor did not present the bill in committee. Thank you for taking the time to answer this urgent call!
While teacher preparation time is an important topic, IASB hopes the newly formed Teacher Shortage Working Group in the House will take up this concept and dive deeper into the topic.

Hot Bills/Topics Discussed in Committees this Week

1. HB4652 (Hernandez) Student Teacher Stipend - We recently reported on a subject matter hearing on two student teacher stipend bills that were being considered. One was an initiative of the IEA and the other was an initiative of Advance Illinois. Both bills created a student teaching stipend program to alleviate the financial burden of student teaching and are aimed at addressing the current teaching shortage. It appears that the IEA’s bill, HB4652, will be the bill that moves forward. HB4652 is subject to appropriations and provides that each eligible student would receive a stipend of up to $10,000 per semester. In addition, each eligible cooperating teacher would receive a stipend of up to $2,000 per semester. Questions remain as to which entity will pay the stipends. Additionally, questions were asked by legislators encouraging the sponsor to ensure that the mentor stipends do not cause school districts to incur TRS penalties by exceeding the 6% limit. The amendment was adopted with a promise from the sponsor to continue working on the details and bring it back to Committee for a second amendment.

2. HB4873/HB3519 (Kifowit) Pension Bills - The House Personnel and Pensions committee moved several bills that made significant benefit enhancements to the Tier 2 pension system, including lowering the retirement age and addressing the “Safe Harbor” issue. While this seems like a significant step in the Tier 2 pension conversion, the sponsor confirmed numerous times that this was a procedural move only to keep advancing the bills through the process. The sponsor noted that she wants to continue this conversation with stakeholders and needs a legislative vehicle for moving something in the future. All bills passed on a partisan vote, with Republicans noting the significant fiscal impact of the bills and lack of funds to pay for them. The sponsor did commit to bring any bill back to committee and not include it in the BIMP bill at the end of session.

3. HB5020 (Blair-Sherlock) Dual Credit Quality - This bill has been the product of months of negotiations between STAND, unions, K-12 school management groups (including IASB), and higher education groups. HB5020 would make important amendments to the Dual Credit Quality Act. These changes include addressing issues with approval of instructor credentials and qualifications, increasing equitable access to Dual Credit, equalizing credit and weighting between Dual Credit and Advanced Placement Classes, and balancing the 29-member Dual Credit Committee that would develop a Dual Credit Instructor Qualification Framework. Despite these collaborative efforts, several community college faculty members expressed concerns to the sponsor and filed witness slips in opposition to the bill. The sponsor committed to continuing conversations around their concerns and the bill passed with a promise from the sponsor to come back with an amendment.

4. HB5455 (Crespo) Community College Teacher Prep Programs - This bill is an initiative of ISBE and would allow for community colleges to create their own teacher education preparation programs for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree but are seeking a professional educator's license (PEL). ISBE noted that this would help address the teacher shortage by increasing geographic access to PEL programs and reducing the financial burdens associated with obtaining a PEL. The bill passed out of committee despite opposition by the University systems and bipartisan concerns. The sponsor agreed to meet with the Teacher Shortage Workgroup to discuss this bill.

Advocacy Ambassador Update

The IASB Governmental Relations team would love for you to join the Advocacy Ambassador program. The program is designed to build relationships between school board members and state and federal legislators. Since our initial meeting in February, the group has grown to over 100, but there is always room for more. No experience is required – all you need is your voice, your passion, and commitment to making a difference. Sign up today!

On Wednesday, April 24, at noon, our Mid-Month-Mini meeting will provide a 30-minute deep-dive into student discipline, taking an in-depth look at the passage of SB100, challenges and successes in the implementation of that legislation, and the work that led to efforts on a new bill this session. SB1400 attempts to balance the need to reduce exclusionary discipline practices but allow schools the ability to keep students and staff safe.

You can register for this event through IASB’s Event Calendar, but you must first be signed up as an Advocacy Ambassador. Be on the lookout for advocacy opportunities this spring and contact IASB staff with any questions. The Governmental Relations team is honored to serve our members and looks forward to a successful session!

House Education Bills that Passed out of Committee this Week

HB0340 (Mussman) Special Education Notice
While this bill began as a shell bill, HFA1 is a gut-and-replace amendment that clarifies that a parent or guardian has a right to receive copies of all written materials utilized in special education meetings.  The notice given to parents or guardians must also include the date the materials will be delivered to the parents. The bill passed out of committee unanimously.

HB4274 (Swanson) Tick Removal in Schools
There was a subject matter hearing on this bill several months back. Since that time, IASB and other management groups have worked with the sponsor to streamline implementation and ensure collaboration and integration with IDPH guidelines. This bill, as introduced, requires the school nurse or designated staff to remove a tick from a student and preserve the tick for three days to allow parents or guardians to have the tick tested for Lyme disease. The original bill also outlines specific language to be used when sending notice home to the parents regarding Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever. IASB Governmental Relations staff have met with the sponsor and other advocacy groups numerous times to address concerns including storing the tick for three days, liability concerns with that requirement, and keeping language requested to be sent home at the discretion of IDPH and not in statute. If the guidance changes, we want to give IDPH the flexibility to do that quickly. The bill passed through committee with a 14-0 vote but will be held on second reading and coming back to committee with an amendment. IASB staff will continue to work with the sponsor on this bill.

HB4377 (Mason) Student Account-Unpaid Fees
This bill prohibits school districts from punishing or penalizing students because of an unpaid school account. The sponsor noted that previous legislation prohibited school districts from withholding transcripts. However, she is concerned that school districts are doing other things (i.e. prohibiting students with outstanding fees from participating in the graduation ceremony). This bill was passed out of committee with the agreement that this bill will be held on second reading while ISBE and the sponsor determine the impact of this legislation.

HB4417 (Johnson) Workplace Readiness Week
IASB staff worked with the sponsor to create HCA1, which amends the bill from a mandate to being permissive. This bill encourages districts to educate their students about workers' rights and outlines topics that can be covered. An 11-2 vote brought the bill out of committee.

HB4586 (Stava Murray) Mental Health Notification
This bill provides that school boards shall ensure that students are notified twice a year on how to access any mental health services offered in school or in the community. The bill moved through committee with a unanimous vote but will be coming back to committee with an amendment to address some concerns, including the role of the local public health department, how the students will be notified, and liability coverage for districts.

HB4896 (Mussman) Sexual Misconduct
HFA1 clarifies outstanding issues and concerns raised about the implementation of Faith’s Law. Faith’s law took effect December 3, 2021 and established the definition of sexual misconduct within the School Code for the first time. The bill is named after Faith Colson who was sexually abused by a teacher at her high school and further outlines the requirements for schools to develop and post employee professional conduct policies. HB4896 clarifies who completes the Employee History Review (EHR) within Faith’s Law. It also allows the local Regional Office of Education (ROE) to become the repository for Employee History Reviews of substitute teachers, as substitute teachers often work in more than one district within the region. Now, the ROE can share the EHR with those districts. The bill passed through committee with a 14-0 vote.

HB5275 (Ness) School Student Records
The bill amends the Illinois School Student Records Act (ISSRA) and requires certain student records (i.e. IEPs and 504 plans) that are currently maintained in a student’s temporary record (five years) to be maintained in the student’s permanent records (60 years). The sponsor’s intent is to help former students who apply for housing and other state services later in life as adults by being able to access school records. Notably, the IDHS often needs to identify the age of onset of a disability for these individuals and school records can help in that process. IASB opposed the bill as written given the challenges of maintaining those records for an additional 55 years and as well as the need to address possible federal issues with maintaining these records which note disabilities. We are working on an amendment that would address the sponsor’s issue, but in a way that is manageable and in compliance with federal law for school districts. The sponsor committed to holding the bill and bring the amendment back to committee.

HB5276 (Ness) Special Education Transition, passed out of committee previously. HFA 1 included a technical amendment and passed unanimously.

HB5394 (Faver Dias) School Safety Drill Cardiac Plan
Beginning with the 2024-2025 school year, a school district shall develop a cardiac emergency response plan to accompany existing AED units in schools. This is an initiative of the American Heart Association. The bill passed through committee with a 14-0 vote, but it will be held on second reading and coming back to the committee with an amendment to ensure staff has the needed information to respond to these incidents but minimize burdens on school districts.

HB5407 (Mussman) Homeless Child Grant
This bill sets the framework for state financial assistance for homeless students. While districts receive funding through the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act, that funding is limited. This bill establishes a separate state grant program to address unique barriers for students who experience homelessness. The grant program will be based on the percentage of students experiencing homelessness in an applicant school district. The bill creates the framework only and is subject to appropriations. The bill unanimously passed through committee.

HB5510 (Johnson) Social Work Associate License
This bill is in response to the lack of school social workers and attempts to remove some of the barriers to becoming a school social worker. HB5510 is an initiative of the Illinois Association of Social Workers and creates the School Social Work Associate License, which may be issued to an applicant who (i) holds a degree from a graduate program of social work that has been approved by the Council on Social Work Education; and (ii) has an active license through the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation under the Clinical Social Work and Social Work Practice Act as either a licensed clinical social worker or licensed social worker. The bill unanimously passed out of committee with two members of the committee signing up as co-sponsors.

HB5609 (Guerrero-Cuellar) Charter School Renewal Fee
This bill caps the amount of fees that can be used for administrative purposes. The bill also states that the authorizer shall grant a renewal of no less than five years if that charter is in the top three summative designations on the State Report Card. This bill passed out of committee on leave but is being held on second reading while the sponsor works on language with the Illinois Network of Charter Schools.

Other House Bills that Passed Out of Committee this week

HB4241 (Elik) Sex Offense Abuse by Educator
The bill provides that a person commits abuse by an educator or authority figure if that person holds a position of trust, authority, or supervision in relation to a student in a school, the student is at least 18 years of age, the person is at least four years older than the student, and the person either (1) commits an act of sexual conduct with the student or (2) commits an act of sexual penetration with the student.

HB4623 (Gong-Gershowitz) Sexually Explicit Digital Image
This bill expands the Illinois Vehicle Code and provides that a person convicted of committing or attempting to commit an obscene depiction of a purported child is ineligible for a commercial driver’s license (CDL) with a school bus driver endorsement. The bill gained unanimous support and passed through committee.

Other Bills of Interest

With the House and Senate deadlines now having passed to get a bill through committee, there is always the chance the deadline can be extended. IASB Governmental Relations staff are currently working with sponsors and other advocacy groups on the following bills that either may be given an extension or the sponsor has indicated that they intend to continue conversations over the summer. These bills include: HB5617 (West) Native American Mascots, SB1400 (Lightford) Student Discipline, SB3511 (Simmons) Instructional Materials/Let America Read Act, and SB3773 (Johnson) Student School Board Member.