School Law Advisor Blog

Education Reform Act Trailer Bill Signed into Law

On August 20, 2013, Governor Quinn signed into law the long-awaited "trailer bill" to SB7 (the Education Reform Act).   Previously known as SB1762, Public Act 98-513 accomplishes several important changes to the rules for reduction in force and evaluation.  Some of the changes may "clean up" some of the unanswered questions left by SB7, but given the two years between the two bills, some districts may have (by necessity) already developed solutions that conflict with the law.  Among the many changes:


1.         According to SB7, tenured teachers were to be evaluated at least "biannually."  This directive (to evaluate twice a year) was in conflict with present law (requiring evaluation biennially).  Public Act 98-513 revised all references to the biannual evaluation of tenured staff to "biennial" evaluation.


2.         There has been significant change to the definition of Grouping 1, which is now defined as follows:


(1) Grouping one shall consist of each teacher who is not in contractual continued service and who (i) has not received a performance evaluation rating, (ii) is  employed for one school term or less to replace a teacher on leave, or (iii) is employed on a part-time basis.  "Part-time basis" for the purposes of this subsection (b) means a teacher who is employed to teach less than a full-day, teacher workload or less than 5 days of the normal student attendance week, unless otherwise provided for in a collective bargaining agreement between the district and the exclusive representative of the district's teachers.  For the purposes of this Section, a teacher (A) who is employed as a full-time teacher but who actually teaches or is otherwise present and participating in the district's educational program for less than a school term or (B) who, in the immediately previous school term, was employed on a full-time basis and actually taught or was otherwise present and participated in the district's educational program for 120 days or more is not considered employed on a part-time basis.


The result of the change is that part-time (including retired) teachers are now in Grouping 1 - and, therefore, not subject to the same rules as Grouping 3 and 4 teachers, who are the exclusive holders of recall rights.


3.         The public posting requirements of section (a-5) of the Labor Act (which previously required a party to declare "impasse" in order to post publicly their final offers) have been modified.  Impasse declarations are no longer necessary, and the offer posted is no longer "final," but rather the "most recent" offer.


4.         Teachers desiring to be considered for "accelerated tenure" will be required to provide documentation of prior excellent ratings - but districts will be required to provide those documents within 14 days of a request.  


The full Act may be found HERE.  Miller, Tracy, Braun, Funk & Miller, Ltd. is committed to keeping you and your districts apprised of changes to the law.  We will discuss these and other changes at our annual workshop on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 in Champaign.  REGISTER HERE