(b) If the amount appropriated to fund a mandate described in subsection (a) of this Section does not fully fund the mandated activity, then the school district or private school may choose to discontinue or modify the mandated activity to ensure that the costs of compliance do not exceed the funding received.
Before discontinuing or modifying the mandate, the school district shall petition its regional superintendent of schools on or before February 15 of each year to request to be exempt from implementing the mandate in a school or schools in the next school year. The petition shall include all legitimate costs associated with implementing and operating the mandate, the estimated reimbursement from State and federal sources, and any unique circumstances the school district can verify that exist that would cause the implementation and operation of such a mandate to be cost prohibitive.
The regional superintendent of schools shall review the petition. In accordance with the Open Meetings Act, he or she shall convene a public hearing to hear testimony from the school district and interested community members. The regional superintendent shall, on or before March 15 of each year, inform the school district of his or her decision, along with the reasons why the exemption was granted or denied, in writing. The regional superintendent must also send notification to the State Board of Education detailing which school districts requested an exemption and the results.
If the regional superintendent grants an exemption to the school district, then the school district is relieved from the requirement to establish and implement the mandate in the school or schools granted an exemption for the next school year.
If the regional superintendent of schools does not grant an exemption, then the school district shall implement the mandate in accordance with the applicable law or rule by the first student attendance day of the next school year. However, the school district or a resident of the school district may on or before April 15 appeal the decision of the regional superintendent to the State Superintendent of Education. The State Superintendent shall hear appeals on the decisions of regional superintendents of schools no later than May 15 of each year. The State Superintendent shall make a final decision at the conclusion of the hearing on the school district's request for an exemption from the mandate. If the State Superintendent grants an exemption, then the school district is relieved from the requirement to implement a mandate in the school or schools granted an exemption for the next school year. If the State Superintendent does not grant an exemption, then the school district shall implement the mandate in accordance with the applicable law or rule by the first student attendance day of the next school year.
If a school district or private school discontinues or modifies a mandated activity due to lack of full funding from the State, then the school district or private school shall annually maintain and update a list of discontinued or modified mandated activities. The list shall be provided to the State Board of Education upon request.
(c) This Section does not apply to (i) any new statutory or regulatory mandates related to revised learning standards developed through the Common Core State Standards Initiative and assessments developed to align with those standards or actions specified in this State's Phase 2 Race to the Top Grant application if the application is approved by the United States Department of Education or (ii) new statutory or regulatory mandates from the Race to the Top Grant through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 imposed on school districts designated as being in the lowest performing 5% of schools within the Race to the Top Grant application.
(d) In any instances in which this Section conflicts with the State Mandates Act, the State Mandates Act shall prevail.
(Source: P.A. 96-1441, eff. 8-20-10.)