ISBE Releases Employment History Review Forms Required Under Faith’s Law
Mar 1, 2023
Another piece of the puzzle is in place to help schools implement expanded requirements that aim to prevent sexual misconduct, as the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) released its template forms for sexual misconduct disclosures for applicants for employment effective July 1, 2023.
The new requirements build on a section of the Illinois School Code, commonly known as Faith’s Law, which requires additional policies and hiring steps to prevent sexual misconduct in schools. As of July 1, 2022, school districts, charter schools, and non-public schools are obligated to have a Professional Code of Conduct Policy in place, which must include a definition of sexual misconduct, identify expectations for employees and agents regarding maintaining professional relationships with students, reference required employee training related to child abuse and educator ethics, and provide that a violation would result in disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from employment. The Employee Code of Professional Conduct is to be posted on the website and included in any staff, student, or parent handbook provided by the school district, charter school, or non-public school.
Before hiring applicants for permanent and temporary positions with a school or a school contractor that has direct contact with children or students, schools and contractors must ensure that they have no knowledge or information pertaining to the applicant that would disqualify the applicant from employment. Beginning July 1, 2023, as part of that process, schools and contractors must now utilize the templates developed by ISBE in which an applicant provides the following:
- The name and relevant contact information for the applicant’s current employer;
- The name and relevant contact information for all former employers that were schools or school contractors, as well as all former employers at which the applicant had direct contact with children or students;
- A written authorization for disclosure of the information below and the release of related records.
- A written statement of whether the applicant meets any of the following conditions unless a subsequent investigation resulted in a finding that the allegation was false, unfounded, or unsubstantiated:
- The applicant has been the subject of a sexual misconduct allegation;
- The applicant has ever been discharged from, been asked to resign from, resigned from, or otherwise been separated from any employment, has ever been disciplined by an employer, or has ever had an employment contract not renewed due to an adjudication or finding of sexual misconduct or while an allegation of sexual misconduct was pending or under investigation;
- The applicant has ever had a license suspended, surrendered, or revoked or had an application for licensure, approval, or endorsement denied due to an adjudication or finding of sexual misconduct or while an allegation of sexual misconduct was pending or under investigation.
The school or contractor must initiate a review of the employment history of the applicant by contacting those employers listed by the applicant. The listed employers must disclose the requested information to the school or contractor within 20 days after receiving the request. For applicants who are licensed by ISBE, the school district, charter school, or non-public school must also verify the applicant’s reported previous employers with the previous employers in the ISBE educator licensure database to ensure accuracy. Additional requirements related to substitute teachers are also provided.
Finally, as schools prepare to implement these changes, they will need to comply with a variety of overlapping old and new statutory requirements relevant to how employment history review forms are created, kept, and disclosed. The new requirements include limits on contract provisions, conditions when employment history review forms must be created, and certain protections for schools as they disclose and receive information during the employment history review process.
To learn more about the employer and applicant for employment requirements under Faith’s Law and the many questions surrounding the implementation of these requirements, we invite you to attend the Robbins Schwartz Webinar scheduled for March 15, 2023, from 11:30 am – 12:30 pm or contact your Robbins Schwartz attorney for guidance specific to your organization. Registration will open soon on our website.