Long Awaited October 2019 PRESS Update Issue 102

On October 31, 2019, IASB’s policy service released PRESS Issue 102, which affects the largest number of Policy Reference Manual pages in the publication’s history. Although there are numerous policy updates, all of which should be reviewed, we call your attention to policies implementing three areas of new legislation related to cannabis, threat assessment, and sexual harassment.

The recent statutory changes legalizing medical and recreational use of cannabis are some of the highest profile changes in Illinois law that will directly affect school districts. It is important districts take note that, as of January 1, 2020, school administrators and/or school nurses may administer cannabis infused products to qualifying students for medical purposes. Before administrators or nurses may administer cannabis, they must complete an annual training course developed by ISBE. Additionally, employees still may not use or possess cannabis on or near school grounds or school buses. This means districts still may maintain and enforce zero-tolerance drug-free work policies. The aforementioned updates and more will affect policies in Section 2 – School Board, Section 5 – Personnel, Section 7 – Students, and Section 8 – Community Relations.

A new law requiring school district implementation of an initial threat assessment procedure by December 24, 2019 (effectively December 21 or earlier due to winter break), and establishment of a threat assessment team by February 19, 2020, can be accomplished by various means, including adoption of policy 4:190, Targeted School Violence Prevention Program and its accompanying Administrative Procedures or by revisions to existing Policy 4:170 and the District crisis response plans and protocols.  Records of the threat assessment team will be exempt from public disclosure under FOIA. These changes are reflected in several policies in Section 4 – Operational Services.

There are also numerous policies affected by the 101st General Assembly’s legislation in regard to sexual harassment in the workplace, in schools and by public officials. By February 9, 2020, boards will need to include in their sexual harassment policies a reporting mechanism for allegations made against board members by fellow board members or other elected officials. Boards also must work to create, implement, and maintain an age-appropriate policy on sexual harassment in district student handbooks and on district websites. Furthermore, district employees now are required to complete an annual sexual harassment prevention training. The aforementioned updates and more will implicate policies in Section 2 – School Board, Section 5 – Personnel, and Section 7 – Students.

For further information on the PRESS updates, districts should refer to IASB’s Update Memo, which now bundles policies together by topic to assist districts in organizing their policy review and update process.  Heather Brickman of our firm serves on the PRESS Advisory Board.

Contact the firm with any questions or for policy review and revision assistance.

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