ISBE Issues Emergency Rules on Recognition Status

On October 28, 2021, ISBE issued emergency rules revising the public and nonpublic school recognition process. Key issues in the revised process are as follows:

  1. The State Superintendent assigns recognition status for each school annually.
  2. Additionally, the State Superintendent has the authority to place a public school/district or a nonpublic school on a changed status of Recognition Pending Review or Probation at any time, based on information obtained by the State Superintendent.
  3. Only the State Board can put a public or nonpublic school/district on Nonrecognized status.
  4. Public schools/districts and nonpublic schools have the right to request a hearing to appeal changes in status.
  5. When the State Superintendent makes a recommendation for Nonrecognized status (and, if the school or district has requested a hearing appealing the State Superintendent’s recommendation, the hearing officer makes a recommendation), the State Board may accept, modify, or reject recommendation after hearing.
  6. Neither a school nor district can be Nonrecognized without first being on Probation except that, if a school or district has been on Probation for an issue earlier in the same school year and the noncompliance arises again, the school or district can go directly to being recommended for Nonrecognized status.

The list of criteria for placement on Probation (including the category of “exhibits deficiencies that present a health hazard or danger”) remains the same, except that the “prolongs or repeats instances of noncompliance” category is expanded to provide that, if a school fails to correct a more minor issue under the Recognized Pending Further Review process, it can be elevated to a Probation level issue. Importantly, the various timelines for appealing any change in status or recommendation for change in status are very short (e.g. 5 or 10 days), so it is critical that schools and districts promptly address any ISBE notices related to recognition status. The emergency rules provide that there is no loss of rights or privileges when a school or district is placed on Recognized Pending Review or Probationary status. Schools and districts should consult with their legal counsel with respect to interpretation of these emergency rules and their application to specific situations. In accordance with the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act, emergency rules can remain in effect no longer than 150 days.

Please contact Heather Brickman with questions about the application of these emergency recognition rules to public schools and districts and Vanessa Clohessy with respect to the application of these rules to nonpublic schools.