Wave of new ed laws taking effect in 2018

Wave of new ed laws taking effect in 2018

(Ill.) High schools in Illinois must partner with a local police department, county sheriff, or police training academy to offer a jobs training program for students–one of many new state requirements going into effect this year.

Schools will also be prohibited from expelling children enrolled in state-funded early childhood programs; districts must collect and review chronic absence data and encourage daily attendance; and schools are required to make feminine hygiene products available and free for students.

Lawmakers in Illinois expressed in numerous committee hearings, statements and interviews hopes that such bills would have positive short- and long-term effects on student achievement.

Sponsors of the policing career pathway bill, for instance, said that if successful, law enforcement agencies in Illinois will in time become more diverse, and officers will have a better understanding of the communities they serve.

“No one is well-served when there is a breakdown in trust and communication between law enforcement and the community,” Sen. Patricia Van Pelt, D-Chicago, a sponsor of HB 243, said in a statement. “It’s time to put into effect meaningful programs that help foster positive relationships between law enforcement and our neighborhoods and encourage Chicago youth to pursue careers in law enforcement.”

In an effort to mend what local officials and advocacy groups have called a fractured relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve, districts must partner with local sheriff or police departments to develop police training academy career preparation programs at the high school level. The programs must be open to all students regardless of academic history, but districts can impose requirements to maintain successful participation in the program.

Additionally, the new law also creates the police training academy job training scholarship program, through which students who have completed the program and been accepted to any public college or university in the state can receive financial assistance to cover tuition or other fees.

Illinois also joined a growing number of states prohibiting the expulsion of pre-K children. Under another law which went into effect this year, early childhood programs that receive grants from the State Board of Education for preschool educational programs are prohibited from expelling children.

Instead, when “persistent and serious challenging behaviors” do emerge, early childhood program administrators must document steps taken to ensure that the child can participate safely in the program and utilize a range of community resources. The law does provide, however, that if documents show that all available interventions and supports recommended by qualified professionals have been exhausted, administrators can temporary removal of a child.

Other laws going into effect require:

  • Districts to stock feminine hygiene products in school bathrooms and ensure they’re available at no cost to students;
  • Schools to collect chronic absence data to use in informing new methods of encouraging daily attendance;
  • Schools to provide reasonable breastfeeding accommodations for students; and
  • Districts to include average daily attendance by broken out by grade level on state school report cards.

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