Governor Pritzker recently signed two bills into law, expanding accessibility and flexibility within special education. The first, Public Act 102-0703 (House Bill 4365), allows IEP teams to place students at non-ISBE-approved facilities and the second, Public Act 102-1072 (House Bill 5214), requires school districts to notify parents of their right to an interpreter during various special education proceedings. Both new laws went into effect immediately.
Public Act 102-0703 allows placement at non-ISBE approved facilities when ISBE provides an emergency and student-specific approval for the placement. To receive such approval, a school district must send a request to ISBE for the placement. Within ten days, ISBE is required to approve the request, if the non-ISBE-approved facility:
- Demonstrates its teachers have appropriate licensure to serve the student population;
- Demonstrates age-appropriate curriculum;
- Provides enrollment and attendance data; and
- Demonstrates the ability to implement the student’s IEP.
For approval, the requesting school district must also demonstrate it made a good faith effort to place the student in an ISBE-approved facility, but that no approved facility accepted the student or had immediate availability for the student’s placement. The new law also allows a hearing officer to order placement of a student in a non-ISBE-approved facility without emergency approval from ISBE and such placement will be deemed approved. Whether approved by ISBE or by order of a hearing officer, school district payments to the facility must be issued at least once per quarter, unless otherwise agreed upon.
After a student has been placed in a non-ISBE-approved facility pursuant to the above, the student may remain in the facility as long as (1) the IEP team determines annually that the placement is appropriate; and (2) every three years, the IEP team reviews approved placements that have availability, can meet the student’s needs, and have accepted the student.
Accessibility to Translators for Parents during School Meetings
Public Act 102-1072 expands the previous requirement that interpretation services be available at IEP team meetings to include multidisciplinary conferences, 504 meetings, and special education mediation for parents who are deaf or who do not typically communicate in English. Specifically, Public Act 102-1072 adds to the requirement that school districts notify parents of Section 504 eligibility that they are entitled to an interpreter if they are deaf or do not typically communicate in English. In addition, interpreters must be made available during multidisciplinary conferences and mediation for parents who are deaf or who do not communicate in English.
*Liz Becker, a third-year law student at Loyola University Chicago School of Law, is a Loyola Education Practicum Student at Franczek P.C. The Practicum, part of Loyola’s education law curriculum, was created to provide law students with practical experience at education law firms and organizations. Students receive academic credit for their Practicum experience.