A new bill in the Illinois General Assembly is seeking to solidify the Illinois State Board of Education to enforce public health guidelines in all Illinois schools.
Currently, ISBE is enforcing Governor J.B. Pritzker’s mask mandate in schools by stripping schools of their recognition status if they fail to comply. Over 50 schools have either been put on probation or stripped of their status by ISBE since the beginning of the school year.
Under the new bill filed by 21st District Representative Edgar Gonzalez, Jr. of Summit, it would codify ISBE’s ability to strip recognition status, investigate non-compliance, and allow the State Superintendent to place any school in remote learning for non-compliance.
Critics say the introduction of this bill means ISBE hasn’t had the authority to take these actions, but lawmakers say that isn’t the case. 48th District State Senator Doris Turner, who is a long-time public health official, agrees with the measure saying it provides direction and authority to ISBE in a public health crisis; while 99th District Representative Mike Murphy of Springfield feels the bill is an overreach. Murphy told WICS Newschannel 20 that local school boards should be able to decide what’s best for students.
The bill would also provide authority over private and parochial schools. The bill is currently in the Illinois House Rules Committee.