District 117 Superintendent said that a recent What’s On Your Mind Interview may have had a major impact statewide on clarifying a new Illinois State Board of Education rule about child restraint in classrooms. “I did the interview on What’s On Your Mind?. That turned into an article, and some people at ISBE read that article on Friday. On Monday morning, I received a call from ISBE and they wanted to clarify that ‘no’ those standard things such as in-school suspensions, lunch detentions, and students being told to stand in the hallway were not reviewing something that these new controls would apply to. We had a discussion about even on the Thursday before the interview that even our own attorneys was letting us know that they were still reviewing those policies as limited. I asked ISBE if they really could go out of their way to clarify these rules for other school districts because there was a lot of confusion. Regardless of all of that, I’m very happy with where things ended up, and that the control they put in place are areas where we have no problem in filling out the paperwork to justify needing to do a separation or a restraint of a student.”
Ptacek said that ISBE went beyond his request to ensure that there was clarity for students who require some sort of separation due to their individual educational program. “It has even go so far as to clarify that if it is in a student’s IEP that we need to remove them for a therapeutic reason to calm down, let’s say in some of our autism classes, that doesn’t apply [to this rule] either. That is a part of their proper response to their IEP. It’s ending up in a good place so that I’m not as concerned as I was before.”
Ptacek says that the district has special spaces in autism classrooms for students who need to have a calming period but the district does not have individualized padded rooms like some districts in the state utilize.
Ptacek also said that the school district is having to change language in the district when it comes to visitor conduct due to another state law going into effect on January 1st: “You’re not allowed to have marijuana on our school campuses for visitors. This is for individuals that are coming to sporting events. When it comes to students with medical marijuana, there’s still some confusion that [ISBE] needs to clarify, but at this point we are still following through that it has to be brought on campus to be given to the students and then taken away. We are not storing that on our school grounds at this time. Now, that is open to change as the rules come, but it will not change for visitors to our campuses. We never thought we would have to add that in our policies because it was illegal; but when it is legal, we need to clearly state that you are not allowed to bring it on school grounds.”
Ptacek says that he expects some more clarity about medical cannabis to come from ISBE within the next few weeks once the new legalization law takes effect.