Public Act 101-0531 signed into law on Friday by Governor JB Pritzker, strengthens protections for student safety. The new law grants the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) the statutory authority to suspend an educator's license immediately if they are charged with a crime listed in
Section 21B-80 of the Illinois School Code, with the exception of drug offenses. The license would be reinstated if the person is acquitted.
The new law's enhancements to student safety will help prevent educators from obtaining employment at any other school while under investigation for committing certain serious crimes. Statute bars any individual without a valid and active license from working as a teacher, substitute teacher, paraprofessional, or academic administrator in an Illinois public school. ISBE also reports all licensure suspensions and revocations to a national database.
Prior to the enactment of Public Act 101-0531 ISBE frequently had to wait until the conclusion of criminal proceedings.
Public Act 101-0531 also increases the frequency of background checks for school employees to every five years that the employee remains with the same employer. Prior to the enactment of Public Act 101-0531 statute only required school districts to conduct a background check when a candidate applied for employment. School districts will continue to receive notifications (called “wrap backs") from the Illinois State Police when anyone for whom they previously have requested a background check is arrested.
The Act makes additional changes to strengthen protections for student safety, including:
- Requiring all school districts to review existing policies and procedures concerning sexual abuse investigations.
- Requiring all school districts to report to ISBE when an educator is convicted of specific crimes, including sex crimes against children, instead of only if that misconduct resulted in the employee's resignation or dismissal.
- Requiring the involvement of the Children's Advocacy Centers when there is an incident of sexual misconduct.
- Creating the Make Sexual and Severe Physical Abuse Fully Extinct Task Force, which will review the best practices for preventing the sexual abuse of students in a school-related setting, among other topics.