Illinois General Assembly - Full Text of HB2801
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Full Text of HB2801  102nd General Assembly



State of Illinois
2021 and 2022


Introduced 2/19/2021, by Rep. Sonya M. Harper


105 ILCS 5/34-85  from Ch. 122, par. 34-85

    Amends the Chicago School District Article of the School Code. Makes a technical change in a provision concerning the removal of a teacher or a principal.

LRB102 14523 CMG 19876 b





HB2801LRB102 14523 CMG 19876 b

1    AN ACT concerning education.
2    Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3represented in the General Assembly:
4    Section 5. The School Code is amended by changing Section
534-85 as follows:
6    (105 ILCS 5/34-85)  (from Ch. 122, par. 34-85)
7    Sec. 34-85. Removal for cause; notice and hearing;
9    (a) No teacher employed by the the board of education
10shall (after serving the probationary period specified in
11Section 34-84) be removed except for cause. Teachers (who have
12completed the probationary period specified in Section 34-84
13of this Code) shall be removed for cause in accordance with the
14procedures set forth in this Section or, at the board's
15option, the procedures set forth in Section 24-16.5 of this
16Code or such other procedures established in an agreement
17entered into between the board and the exclusive
18representative of the district's teachers under Section 34-85c
19of this Code for teachers (who have completed the probationary
20period specified in Section 34-84 of this Code) assigned to
21schools identified in that agreement. No principal employed by
22the board of education shall be removed during the term of his
23or her performance contract except for cause, which may



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1include but is not limited to the principal's repeated failure
2to implement the school improvement plan or to comply with the
3provisions of the Uniform Performance Contract, including
4additional criteria established by the Council for inclusion
5in the performance contract pursuant to Section 34-2.3.
6    Before service of notice of charges on account of causes
7that may be deemed to be remediable, the teacher or principal
8must be given reasonable warning in writing, stating
9specifically the causes that, if not removed, may result in
10charges; however, no such written warning is required if the
11causes have been the subject of a remediation plan pursuant to
12Article 24A of this Code or if the board and the exclusive
13representative of the district's teachers have entered into an
14agreement pursuant to Section 34-85c of this Code, pursuant to
15an alternative system of remediation. No written warning shall
16be required for conduct on the part of a teacher or principal
17that is cruel, immoral, negligent, or criminal or that in any
18way causes psychological or physical harm or injury to a
19student, as that conduct is deemed to be irremediable. No
20written warning shall be required for a material breach of the
21uniform principal performance contract, as that conduct is
22deemed to be irremediable; provided that not less than 30 days
23before the vote of the local school council to seek the
24dismissal of a principal for a material breach of a uniform
25principal performance contract, the local school council shall
26specify the nature of the alleged breach in writing and



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1provide a copy of it to the principal.
2        (1) To initiate dismissal proceedings against a
3    teacher or principal, the general superintendent must
4    first approve written charges and specifications against
5    the teacher or principal. A local school council may
6    direct the general superintendent to approve written
7    charges against its principal on behalf of the Council
8    upon the vote of 7 members of the Council. The general
9    superintendent must approve those charges within 45
10    calendar days or provide a written reason for not
11    approving those charges. A written notice of those
12    charges, including specifications, shall be served upon
13    the teacher or principal within 10 business days of the
14    approval of the charges. Any written notice sent on or
15    after July 1, 2012 shall also inform the teacher or
16    principal of the right to request a hearing before a
17    mutually selected hearing officer, with the cost of the
18    hearing officer split equally between the teacher or
19    principal and the board, or a hearing before a qualified
20    hearing officer chosen by the general superintendent, with
21    the cost of the hearing officer paid by the board. If the
22    teacher or principal cannot be found upon diligent
23    inquiry, such charges may be served upon him by mailing a
24    copy thereof in a sealed envelope by prepaid certified
25    mail, return receipt requested, to the teacher's or
26    principal's last known address. A return receipt showing



HB2801- 4 -LRB102 14523 CMG 19876 b

1    delivery to such address within 20 calendar days after the
2    date of the approval of the charges shall constitute proof
3    of service.
4        (2) No hearing upon the charges is required unless the
5    teacher or principal within 17 calendar days after
6    receiving notice requests in writing of the general
7    superintendent that a hearing be scheduled. Pending the
8    hearing of the charges, the general superintendent or his
9    or her designee may suspend the teacher or principal
10    charged without pay in accordance with rules prescribed by
11    the board, provided that if the teacher or principal
12    charged is not dismissed based on the charges, he or she
13    must be made whole for lost earnings, less setoffs for
14    mitigation.
15        (3) The board shall maintain a list of at least 9
16    qualified hearing officers who will conduct hearings on
17    charges and specifications. The list must be developed in
18    good faith consultation with the exclusive representative
19    of the board's teachers and professional associations that
20    represent the board's principals. The list may be revised
21    on July 1st of each year or earlier as needed. To be a
22    qualified hearing officer, the person must (i) be
23    accredited by a national arbitration organization and have
24    had a minimum of 5 years of experience as an arbitrator in
25    cases involving labor and employment relations matters
26    between employers and employees or their exclusive



HB2801- 5 -LRB102 14523 CMG 19876 b

1    bargaining representatives and (ii) beginning September 1,
2    2012, have participated in training provided or approved
3    by the State Board of Education for teacher dismissal
4    hearing officers so that he or she is familiar with issues
5    generally involved in evaluative and non-evaluative
6    dismissals.
7        Within 5 business days after receiving the notice of
8    request for a hearing, the general superintendent and the
9    teacher or principal or their legal representatives shall
10    alternately strike one name from the list until only one
11    name remains. Unless waived by the teacher, the teacher or
12    principal shall have the right to proceed first with the
13    striking. If the teacher or principal fails to participate
14    in the striking process, the general superintendent shall
15    either select the hearing officer from the list developed
16    pursuant to this paragraph (3) or select another qualified
17    hearing officer from the master list maintained by the
18    State Board of Education pursuant to subsection (c) of
19    Section 24-12 of this Code.
20        (4) If the notice of dismissal was sent to the teacher
21    or principal before July 1, 2012, the fees and costs for
22    the hearing officer shall be paid by the State Board of
23    Education. If the notice of dismissal was sent to the
24    teacher or principal on or after July 1, 2012, the hearing
25    officer's fees and costs must be paid as follows in this
26    paragraph (4). The fees and permissible costs for the



HB2801- 6 -LRB102 14523 CMG 19876 b

1    hearing officer shall be determined by the State Board of
2    Education. If the hearing officer is mutually selected by
3    the parties through alternate striking in accordance with
4    paragraph (3) of this subsection (a), then the board and
5    the teacher or their legal representative shall each pay
6    50% of the fees and costs and any supplemental allowance
7    to which they agree. If the hearing officer is selected by
8    the general superintendent without the participation of
9    the teacher or principal, then the board shall pay 100% of
10    the hearing officer fees and costs. The hearing officer
11    shall submit for payment a billing statement to the
12    parties that itemizes the charges and expenses and divides
13    them in accordance with this Section.
14        (5) The teacher or the principal charged is required
15    to answer the charges and specifications and aver
16    affirmative matters in his or her defense, and the time
17    for doing so must be set by the hearing officer. The State
18    Board of Education shall adopt rules so that each party
19    has a fair opportunity to present its case and to ensure
20    that the dismissal proceeding is concluded in an
21    expeditious manner. The rules shall address, without
22    limitation, the teacher or principal's answer and
23    affirmative defenses to the charges and specifications; a
24    requirement that each party make mandatory disclosures
25    without request to the other party and then update the
26    disclosure no later than 10 calendar days prior to the



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1    commencement of the hearing, including a list of the names
2    and addresses of persons who may be called as witnesses at
3    the hearing, a summary of the facts or opinions each
4    witness will testify to, and all other documents and
5    materials, including information maintained
6    electronically, relevant to its own as well as the other
7    party's case (the hearing officer may exclude witnesses
8    and exhibits not identified and shared, except those
9    offered in rebuttal for which the party could not
10    reasonably have anticipated prior to the hearing);
11    pre-hearing discovery and preparation, including provision
12    for written interrogatories and requests for production of
13    documents, provided that discovery depositions are
14    prohibited; the conduct of the hearing; the right of each
15    party to be represented by counsel, the offer of evidence
16    and witnesses and the cross-examination of witnesses; the
17    authority of the hearing officer to issue subpoenas and
18    subpoenas duces tecum, provided that the hearing officer
19    may limit the number of witnesses to be subpoenaed in
20    behalf of each party to no more than 7; the length of
21    post-hearing briefs; and the form, length, and content of
22    hearing officers' reports and recommendations to the
23    general superintendent.
24        The hearing officer shall commence the hearing within
25    75 calendar days and conclude the hearing within 120
26    calendar days after being selected by the parties as the



HB2801- 8 -LRB102 14523 CMG 19876 b

1    hearing officer, provided that these timelines may be
2    modified upon the showing of good cause or mutual
3    agreement of the parties. Good cause for the purposes of
4    this paragraph (5) shall mean the illness or otherwise
5    unavoidable emergency of the teacher, district
6    representative, their legal representatives, the hearing
7    officer, or an essential witness as indicated in each
8    party's pre-hearing submission. In a dismissal hearing in
9    which a witness is a student or is under the age of 18, the
10    hearing officer must make accommodations for the witness,
11    as provided under paragraph (5.5) of this subsection. The
12    hearing officer shall consider and give weight to all of
13    the teacher's evaluations written pursuant to Article 24A
14    that are relevant to the issues in the hearing. Except as
15    otherwise provided under paragraph (5.5) of this
16    subsection, the teacher or principal has the privilege of
17    being present at the hearing with counsel and of
18    cross-examining witnesses and may offer evidence and
19    witnesses and present defenses to the charges. Each party
20    shall have no more than 3 days to present its case, unless
21    extended by the hearing officer to enable a party to
22    present adequate evidence and testimony, including due to
23    the other party's cross-examination of the party's
24    witnesses, for good cause or by mutual agreement of the
25    parties. The State Board of Education shall define in
26    rules the meaning of "day" for such purposes. All



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1    testimony at the hearing shall be taken under oath
2    administered by the hearing officer. The hearing officer
3    shall cause a record of the proceedings to be kept and
4    shall employ a competent reporter to take stenographic or
5    stenotype notes of all the testimony. The costs of the
6    reporter's attendance and services at the hearing shall be
7    paid by the party or parties who are paying the fees and
8    costs of the hearing officer. Either party desiring a
9    transcript of the hearing shall pay for the cost thereof.
10    At the close of the hearing, the hearing officer shall
11    direct the parties to submit post-hearing briefs no later
12    than 21 calendar days after receipt of the transcript.
13    Either or both parties may waive submission of briefs.
14        (5.5) In the case of charges involving sexual abuse or
15    severe physical abuse of a student or a person under the
16    age of 18, the hearing officer shall make alternative
17    hearing procedures to protect a witness who is a student
18    or who is under the age of 18 from being intimidated or
19    traumatized. Alternative hearing procedures may include,
20    but are not limited to: (i) testimony made via a
21    telecommunication device in a location other than the
22    hearing room and outside the physical presence of the
23    teacher or principal and other hearing participants, (ii)
24    testimony outside the physical presence of the teacher or
25    principal, or (iii) non-public testimony. During a
26    testimony described under this subsection, each party must



HB2801- 10 -LRB102 14523 CMG 19876 b

1    be permitted to ask a witness who is a student or who is
2    under 18 years of age all relevant questions and follow-up
3    questions. All questions must exclude evidence of the
4    witness' sexual behavior or predisposition, unless the
5    evidence is offered to prove that someone other than the
6    teacher subject to the dismissal hearing engaged in the
7    charge at issue.
8        (6) The hearing officer shall within 30 calendar days
9    from the conclusion of the hearing report to the general
10    superintendent findings of fact and a recommendation as to
11    whether or not the teacher or principal shall be dismissed
12    and shall give a copy of the report to both the teacher or
13    principal and the general superintendent. The State Board
14    of Education shall provide by rule the form of the hearing
15    officer's report and recommendation.
16        (7) The board, within 45 days of receipt of the
17    hearing officer's findings of fact and recommendation,
18    shall make a decision as to whether the teacher or
19    principal shall be dismissed from its employ. The failure
20    of the board to strictly adhere to the timeliness
21    contained herein shall not render it without jurisdiction
22    to dismiss the teacher or principal. In the event that the
23    board declines to dismiss the teacher or principal after
24    review of a hearing officer's recommendation, the board
25    shall set the amount of back pay and benefits to award the
26    teacher or principal, which shall include offsets for



HB2801- 11 -LRB102 14523 CMG 19876 b

1    interim earnings and failure to mitigate losses. The board
2    shall establish procedures for the teacher's or
3    principal's submission of evidence to it regarding lost
4    earnings, lost benefits, mitigation, and offsets. The
5    decision of the board is final unless reviewed in
6    accordance with paragraph (8) of this subsection (a).
7        (8) The teacher may seek judicial review of the
8    board's decision in accordance with the Administrative
9    Review Law, which is specifically incorporated in this
10    Section, except that the review must be initiated in the
11    Illinois Appellate Court for the First District. In the
12    event judicial review is instituted, any costs of
13    preparing and filing the record of proceedings shall be
14    paid by the party instituting the review. In the event the
15    appellate court reverses a board decision to dismiss a
16    teacher or principal and directs the board to pay the
17    teacher or the principal back pay and benefits, the
18    appellate court shall remand the matter to the board to
19    issue an administrative decision as to the amount of back
20    pay and benefits, which shall include a calculation of the
21    lost earnings, lost benefits, mitigation, and offsets
22    based on evidence submitted to the board in accordance
23    with procedures established by the board.
24        (9) If the Governor has declared a disaster due to a
25    public health emergency pursuant to Section 7 of the
26    Illinois Emergency Management Act, except if the parties



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1    mutually agree otherwise and the agreement is in writing,
2    the requirements of this Section pertaining to prehearings
3    and hearings are paused and do not begin to toll until the
4    proclamation declaring the disaster is no longer in
5    effect. If mutually agreed to and reduced in writing, the
6    parties may proceed with the prehearing and hearing
7    requirements of this Section connected to the appointment
8    and selection of a hearing officer and those connected to
9    commencing and concluding a hearing. Any hearing convened
10    during a public health emergency pursuant to Section 7 of
11    the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act may be
12    convened remotely. Any hearing officer for a hearing
13    convened during a public health emergency pursuant to
14    Section 7 of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency Act
15    may voluntarily withdraw from the hearing and another
16    hearing officer shall be selected or appointed pursuant to
17    this Section.
18    (b) Nothing in this Section affects the validity of
19removal for cause hearings commenced prior to June 13, 2011
20(the effective date of Public Act 97-8).
21    The changes made by Public Act 97-8 shall apply to
22dismissals instituted on or after September 1, 2011 or the
23effective date of Public Act 97-8, whichever is later. Any
24dismissal instituted prior to the effective date of these
25changes must be carried out in accordance with the
26requirements of this Section prior to amendment by Public Act



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2(Source: P.A. 101-531, eff. 8-23-19; 101-643, eff. 6-18-20.)