NEA Education Insider


February 4, 2018

Looming fiscal issues

Congress is preparing to pass another short-term, stopgap funding bill – the fifth since the start of FY2018 – to keep the government running after Friday, February 8. Soon, the debt ceiling will need to be raised as well. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported this week that the Treasury is likely to run out of cash faster than expected due to lost revenue from the tax bill passed at the end of 2017.

Tell Congress to pass the Dream Act now!

The 9,000 educators who are DACA recipients, including Texas teacher Karen Reyes (picture),  are the focus of a lengthy New York Times story about how President take actionTrump’s decision to end DACA is hurting students and educators. “To see them treated in this despicable way, to see them treated as pawns, is just not fair,” said NEA President Lily Eskelsen García. NEA is calling on Congress to pass a Dreamer fix immediately. We support the bipartisan Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615/H.R. 3440), which provides a 13-year pathway to citizenship via multiple tracks, including higher education, military service, and employment. We oppose the administration’s four-pillar framework, which includes building a $25 billion border wall and slashing legal immigration by ending family reunification – people would no longer be allowed to sponsor their parents, adult children, or siblings – and reallocating or eliminating the diversity visa lottery. Click on the take action button and tell Congress to pass the Dream Act now!

Tell your representative to co-sponsor and support the IDEA Full Funding Act

Efforts to build support for the IDEA Full Funding Act (H.R. 2902) are bearing fruit – nearly 90 members of the House have signed on as co-sponsors. This bipartisan billwould take actionincrease the federal contribution for the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act (IDEA) gradually over ten years from 15 to 40 percent, the level of support Congress promised when it passed the original IDEA. It would also demonstrate that Congress is serious about meeting its commitment to helping school districts support all students. Click on the take action button and tell your representative to co-sponsor and support the IDEA Full Funding Act.

Tell Congress to invest in education

kids in a classroomJust days from now, Congress is likely to pass yet another short-term, stopgap measure that prevents adequate investments in education – especially programs targeting the take actionstudents most in need like Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). In this first full year of implementing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) – enacted with broad, bipartisan support just two years ago – Congress should be helping states and local school districts by providing adequate funding. The longer Congress delays finalizing FY2018 funding, the more uncertainty school districts, administrators, and educators will face as they plan for the upcoming school year. Tell Congress to work in a bipartisan fashion, as it has done twice before, and raise the budget caps on an equal basis for defense and domestic programs like education.

Cheers and Jeers

thumbs upRepresentatives David Scott (D-GA), Bobby Scott (D-VA), Dwight Evans (D-PA), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO), Yvette Clarke (D-NY), Keith Ellison (D-MN), Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), Val Demings (D-FL), Denny Heck (D-WA), Mark Takano (D-CA), and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) for delivering special order speeches on the importance of unions in light of Janus v. AFSCME, a case soon to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court that could undermine the entire labor movement, and to Representatives Al Lawson (D-FL) and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) for submitting statements for the record

thumbs downPresident Trump’s four-pillar framework, which would dramatically reduce legal immigration, tear families apart, and ask U.S. taxpayers to pay $25 billion to build a border wall


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New Legislation Updates

Learn with Dignity Law 

Section 5 of the School Code, commonly known as the Learn with Dignity Act, has been amended to require school districts to make feminine hygiene products available, at no cost to students, in the bathrooms of school buildings. School buildings include all facilities that are owned or leased by a school district or buildings which the school board has care, custody and control over and are serving students in grades 6 through 12.

House Bill 3215; Public Act 100-0163

Effective January 1, 2018

Right to Reduce Time of Educational Support Personnel

Haag v. The Board of Education of Streator Elementary School District 44, 2017 IL App (3d) 150643 (May 9, 2017)

The Appellate Court held that a school board has the authority to restructure the full-time positions of its educational support employees into part-time positions. This includes the ability to restructure these positions even though the amount of work would remain the same and could result in the need to hire more part-time ESPs.

The court rejected the union claim stating that when an ESP is removed or dismissed from a full-time position or when they are reduced to part-time, the Illinois School Code creates recall rights for ESPs to maintain their current full-time positions before the school board can have the opportunity to restructure the work.

The court’s decision clearly determines that ESPs do not have the same recall rights as a tenured teacher. However, particular provisions of collective bargaining agreements may impact this type of action.

Discouraging Expulsion of Preschoolers

Preschool age children enrolled in publicly funded early childhood programs and schools in Illinois will be protected from expulsion under a new law.

Early education programs will be able to temporarily remove children for behavior-related safety concerns but program officials must try to address the behavior through intervention and community resources. The law also requires the state’s child welfare agency to develop rules to prevent licensed day cares and other educational facilities from expelling young children.

House Bill 2663; Public Act 100-0105

Effective January 1, 2018

Update to Sick Leave Code

See the information below for the update to the sick leave code for the state of Illinois. I’ve highlighted some of the areas of interest.


Including Birth & Adoption Leave

105 ILCS 5/24-6


The Illinois School Code Section 24-6 allows eligible school employees, including fathers, to use accumulated paid sick leave for a child’s birth, adoption or placement for adoption. Previously, the code only permitted paid sick leave to be used for personal illness, quarantine, or the serious illness or death of an immediate family or household member. Eligible employees are defined as full-time teachers and IMRF qualifying employees. Many local contracts expand sick leave use beyond the school code’s provisions. Additionally, the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other statutes may affect the employee’s rights and obligations regarding leave usage.


Medical or other documentation

  • For personal illness sick leave, the school board can require a medical certificate. For a leave of less than 3 days for personal illness, the board must cover the cost of obtaining the certificate. For a leave 3 days or longer, the employee is responsible for the certificate costs.
  • For serious illness of others and funeral leave, the board can require a certificate as it may deem necessary.
  • To use sick leave for birth, the school board does not have a right to request a medical certificate until after 30 days of sick leave have been used.
  • To use sick leave for adoption or placement for adoption, the employee needs to provide evidence that the formal adoption process is underway.


Who can use sick leave?

  • The school code provides that sick leave can be used for the serious illness or death in the household or immediate family. Immediate family is defined as parents, spouse, brothers, sisters, children, grandparents, grandchildren, parents-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and legal guardians.
  • Adoption and birth use of sick leave applies to mothers and fathers, but likely not to other members of the immediate family.
  • Some collective bargaining agreements expand on the definition of who can use the leave and what sick leave can be used for.


How many days of sick leave can be used?

C   Sick leave for personal illness or the serious illness of others is permitted as long as a medical professional documents the need for leave.

  • The school code provides that an employee may use at least 30 sick leave days for birth or adoption and a longer period may be negotiated in local collective bargaining agreements.


How many unused days may accumulate?

  • The school code provides that employees may accumulate a minimum of 180 days of sick leave, though local bargaining may increase that amount.
  • TRS, IMRF and SURS permit employees to receive service credit for unpaid, unused sick leave at the time of retirement.


Jan 2018, Legal Services Department, Paul R. Klenck, Illinois Education Association. This does not constitute legal advice, but only contains some factors to consider.