July 29, 2016: Regional Superintendent Given Authority to Review Residency Cases

As the result of an update to the Illinois School Code that the Governor signed into law today, parents or guardians who disagree with the outcome of a student residency hearing may petition the regional superintendent of schools to request a review of the decision.

Public Act 99-0670, which takes effect on January 1, 2017, amends Section 10-20.12b of the Illinois School Code, which governs residency hearings that are held to determine if a child is a legal resident of the school district where he or she attends school. Public Act 99-0670 now requires a school board to make its decision within 30 calendar days after the residency hearing and to send a copy of the decision to the person who enrolled the pupil within 5 calendar days (by certified mail, return receipt requested). This decision must inform that person who enrolled the child that he or she may, within 5 calendar days after receipt of the decision, petition the regional superintendent of schools to review the decision. The board’s decision must also inform the person who enrolled the pupil that he or she may request that the child be allowed to continue attending the district’s schools pending the regional superintendent’s review of the board’s decision, but tuition will continue to accrue during the review period and, if the regional superintendent determines that the pupil is a nonresident, will become due upon that final determination.

The request for review must include the basis for the request and be sent to both the regional superintendent of schools and the district superintendent. The school board then has 5 calendar days to provide the regional superintendent of schools with the board’s decision, any written evidence and testimony, a list of the hearing witnesses, and any minutes/transcript of the hearing.  The board also may provide the regional superintendent of schools and the petitioner with a written response to the petition for review.

The regional superintendent of schools has 10 calendar days after receiving this documentation to issue a written decision regarding whether there is “clear and convincing evidence that the pupil is a resident of the district … and eligible to attend the district’s schools on a tuition-free basis.” The regional superintendent’s final determination is subject to judicial review pursuant to the Illinois Administrative Review Act, 735 ILCS 5/3-101 et seq.

Other important changes due in Public Act 99-0670 include:

  • When notifying the person who enrolled a pupil of the amount of tuition due to the district for a nonresident pupil’s attendance in the district’s schools, the notice must detail the specific reasons why the board believes the pupil is a nonresident.
  • Parties must disclose to each other all written evidence and testimony, as well as a list of witnesses who may be called to testify, at least 3 calendar days before the residency hearing. Information and witnesses not disclosed at least 3 calendar days before will be barred from the hearing without the consent of the other party.
  • A school board now has 30 calendar days after the residency hearing to decide whether or not a pupil is a resident of the district and, if not, the amount of tuition required to be charged.

Please contact one of our attorneys if you have any questions about Public Act 99-0670 and its impact on school district residency policies and procedures.