New Laws Designed to Address Illinois’ Teacher Shortage
Aug 31, 2018
In recent weeks, Governor Rauner signed several important pieces of legislation relating to school districts’ recruitment and employment of substitute teachers. Below are a summary of these new laws.
1. Revisions to Teacher Requirements Intended to Increase the Substitute Teacher Pool.
On June 29, 2018, Governor Rauner signed Public Act 100-0596 (the “Act”), which enhances the State’s pool of substitute teachers by:
- Allowing the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) to issue short-term substitute teacher licenses to applicants with an associate’s degree or 60 hours of college credit;
- Providing reciprocity for comparable and valid educator licensures from other states;
- Allowing retired teachers, through June 30, 2020, to work 120 days or 600 paid hours in each school year without jeopardizing retirement benefits, but not more than 100 days in the same classroom; and
- Requiring school boards to collaborate with teachers and unions to develop short-term substitute teacher training programs.
This law was effective July 1, 2018. School districts should be aware of their obligation to collaborate with their teacher unions to develop short-term substitute teacher training programs in accordance with the Act’s provisions.
2. Use of Third Party Recruitment Firms for Employment of Substitute Teachers.
Governor Rauner signed Public Act 100-0813 on August 13, 2018, which amends the Illinois School Code and requiring ISBE to implement a program and adopt rules to allow school districts to supplement their substitute teacher recruitment for elementary and secondary schools with the use of recruiting firms. Public Act 100-0813 requires ISBE to implement the recruiting firm program and adopt the program’s rules by January 1, 2019.
To qualify for the recruiting firm program, a school district must demonstrate to ISBE that due to the severity of its substitute teacher shortage it is unable to find an adequate amount of substitute or retired teachers and has exhausted all other efforts. In addition, the Act outlines certain program limitations, including:
- A school district may not use recruiting firms to circumvent collective bargaining agreements or laws;
- Substitute teachers provided by a recruiting firm must adhere to all mandated State laws, rules, and screening requirements for substitute teachers not provided by a recruiting firm;
- Substitute teachers provided by a recruiting firm must be paid on the same wage scale as substitute teachers not provided by a recruiting firm;
- A school district may not reduce the number of full-time staff members of a department as a result of hiring a substitute teacher recruiting firm; and
- In the event of a teacher’s strike, a school district may not use a recruiting firm to hire a substitute teacher.
Although the Act allows ISBE until January 1, 2019, to implement the recruiting firm program and rules, we recommend that school districts begin their review of substitute teacher needs now to determine whether utilizing a recruiting firm program is an option. School districts should also analyze the newly relaxed criterion for employing substitute teachers as set forth in Public Act 100-0596 above.
3. Proof of Physical Fitness for Substitute Teachers No Longer Required.
On August 14, 2018, Governor Rauner signed into law Public Act 100-0855. This new Act makes permissive the former requirement that substitute teachers show evidence of physical fitness to perform the duties assigned upon hire. The Act does, however, still require newly hired substitute teachers to show evidence of freedom from communicable disease.
We reccomend reviewing any questions regarding these new laws with your Robbins Schwartz attorney to ensure appropriate compliance.