Quick Links

Waivers


Overview of Waiver Process

(revised December 2012)

Who is eligible to apply?

  • School districts.
  • Independent authorities authorized under Section 2-3.25f of the School Code are eligible to apply. (NOTE: Independent authorities are entities appointed by the State Superintendent when a district fails to perform under certain conditions as specified in law.)
  • Joint agreements made up of member school districts, such as special education or vocational education cooperatives, may apply on behalf of their member school districts.
  • Regional Superintendents of Schools may apply on behalf of schools and programs that they operate.
  • Intermediate Service Centers (ISCs) that operate alternative schools established pursuant to Article 13A of the School Code (i.e., the Safe Schools Law) may apply for waivers or modifications on behalf of only those alternative schools.

What can applicants do?

  • Eligible entities may petition the State Board of Education for approval of waivers or modifications of State Board of Education rules or modifications of School Code mandates for the following reasons:
  • to meet the intent of the mandate in a more effective, efficient, or economical manner; or
  • to stimulate innovation; or
  • to improve student performance.
  • Eligible entities may petition the State Board of Education for General Assembly approval of waivers of School Code mandates for the following reasons only:
  • to stimulate innovation, or
  • to improve student performance.
  • Applicants seeking waivers from Section 17-1.5 of the School Code (105 ILCS 5/17-1.5) pertaining to administrative expenditure limitations can only do so when the circumstances for exceeding the cap are beyond the control of the district and when the district has exhausted all available remedies to comply with the law. The waiver application also must specify the amount, nature, and reason for the relief requested, as well as all the remedies the district has exhausted in its attempt to comply with the 5 percent limitation.
  • Waivers cannot be requested from laws or rules pertaining to:
  • special education,
  • teacher certification,
  • teacher tenure and seniority,
  • compliance with the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, or
  • township treasurers (see 105 ILCS 5/5-2.1).
  • In addition, after the applicable implementation date, eligible applicants may not seek a waiver or a modification of a mandate regarding the following requirements for the evaluation of certified employees (see 105 ILCS 5/24A-2.5 and 24A-5):
    1. 1. Student performance data to be a significant factor in teacher or principal evaluations; or
    2. 2. The rating system of “excellent”, “proficient”, “needs improvement”, or “unsatisfactory” for teacher or principal evaluations
    3. 3. On the applicable implementation date, any existing waiver or modification from requirements in 1 or 2 above shall terminate.

How is this accomplished?

  • All eligible entities wishing to petition for a waiver or modification first must hold a public hearing to consider the request, providing for a time to take testimony about the request that is separate from the time when any other business is being conducted or testimony on other matters is being heard. For applicants with governing boards (i.e., school district, joint agreement or ISC) seeking to waive or modify the daily physical education requirement, the public hearing must be held on a day other than the day on which a regular board meeting is held. For all applicants, certain notices about the public hearing must be provided.

    For all applicants, a notice must be posted on the applicant's official website at least 14 days in advance of the hearing. Posting must state the time, date, location and general subject matter of the hearing.

    For school districts, the hearing must be preceded by a public notice published in a newspaper of general circulation within the school district. For joint agreements, ISCs or regional superintendents, the hearing must be preceded by a public notice in a newspaper of general circulation in each school district that is a member of the joint agreement or that is served by the educational service region or service center, provided that a notice in a newspaper generally circulated in more than one school district shall be considered sufficient notice to all of the affected districts. For all applicants, the newspaper notice must be published at least 7 days in advance of the public hearing.

    In addition, for all applicants, written notice, addressed to the affected exclusive collective bargaining agent, must be provided at least 7 days prior to the hearing date, indicating the applicant’s intent to seek a waiver or modification and of the hearing to take testimony.

    Finally, all applicants must provide advance written notice to the state legislators who represent the territory in which the school district or other applicant is located.

    Copies of the website notice, newspaper notice, the notice(s) to the collective bargaining agent(s), and the notices to the applicant’s state legislators must be included with the application.

    Please note that the public hearing held to consider waiver applications must conform to the requirements of the Open Meetings Act (5 ILCS 120/1).
  • Applications must be postmarked not later than 15 calendar days following approval by the governing board in the case of school districts, joint agreements and ISCs, or by the regional superintendent of schools.
  • Application forms and instructions for waivers and modifications are provided by the State Board and are available for download. Each applicant must:
  • identify the rule or mandate involved (citation or quote of exact language);
  • identify the specific waiver or modification sought (to include modified wording of the rule or mandate involved);
  • provide justification for the waiver or modification request (i.e., how the request would be more effective, efficient or economical; a fiscal analysis, if the request proposes a more economical method; or a plan for improving student performance or stimulating innovation that indicates how success will be determined);
  • describe any testimony provided at the public hearing, to include:
  • the number of people in attendance,
  • the number of people who spoke as proponents or opponents of the waiver or modification,
  • a brief description of any comments made, and
  • whether any written statements were submitted at the hearing;
  • state the time period for which the waiver or modification is sought (can be no more than 5 years, except in the case of administrative expenditure limitation requests (Section 17-1.5 of the School Code), which are limited to the school year in which relief is sought (i.e. one year only) and requests to waive or modify the daily physical education requirement, which are limited to two years only, renewable for two, two-year periods only (six years total);
  • identify whether the request is for an initial waiver or modification or renewal of a previously approved request; and
  • attach to the application (a) a copy of the notice posted on the applicant's official website at least 14 days in advance of the public hearing; (b) a copy of the notice published in a newspaper of general circulation showing the date of publication; (c) a dated copy of the written notification provided to the applicant's collective bargaining agent; and (d) a copy of the written notification provided to the applicant’s state legislators, each of which must state the time, date, location, and subject matter of the hearing and the fact that testimony about the request will be taken.

How are applications approved or denied?

  • If the State Board determines that an application for waiver or modification of rules or a modification of law cannot be approved, then it must notify the applicant within 45 calendar days following the date the application was received. If no action is taken within that time frame, then the application will be deemed granted.
  • Applications are sent to the Rules and Waivers Division, which determines whether the application is complete (i.e., appropriate citation and rationale provided, public hearing held and described, notices included with the application). Action is not taken on applications deemed to be incomplete, and the 45-day response time does not begin until the applicant submits the additional materials necessary to complete the application that State Board of Education staff have requested.
  • Each application is reviewed and, as appropriate, forwarded to the Legal Department for recommended action and/or other divisions within the agency knowledgeable about the requested relief.
  • If the recommendation is to approve a request for a waiver or modification of rules or modification of a School Code mandate, then the district receives written notification (via e-mail) informing it of the State Board of Education's approval.
  • Any staff recommendation for denial of a request for waiver or modification of rules or modification of a School Code mandate is provided to the State Board of Education for action either at its next regularly scheduled meeting or, if necessary to meet the 45-day response time, at a specially scheduled meeting.
  • If the request is for a waiver of a School Code mandate, then the district receives written notification (via e-mail) that the request will be forwarded in the next scheduled report to the General Assembly for its consideration.
  • The State Board of Education may deny applications for waivers or modifications of rules or a modification of a School Code mandate for the following reasons:
  • the request is not based upon sound educational practices;
  • the requested action would endanger the health or safety of students or staff;
  • the requested action would compromise equal opportunities for learning;
  • the request does not address the intent of the rule or mandate in a more effective, efficient or economical manner; or
  • the request does not have improved student performance as a primary goal.
  • Applications for General Assembly approval of waivers of School Code mandates are reviewed for completeness and submitted in a report to the General Assembly before March 1 and October 1 of each year.
  • The General Assembly must consider the waivers contained in the report the next time it reconvenes following receipt of the report. The General Assembly has 60 calendar days after reconvening to disapprove any waiver requests contained in the report. If it does not act to disapprove any requests during these time periods, then the waivers are deemed granted.

Can denials of waivers or modifications be appealed?

  • A decision by the State Board of Education to deny a waiver or modification of agency rules or modification of a School Code mandate may be appealed to the General Assembly.
  • The applicant must notify the State Board of Education in writing within 30 calendar days after receiving the denial letter that it wishes to appeal the denial.
  • The written appeal must include:
  • the date the local board of education, governing board or regional superintendent of schools approved the original request,
  • the citation of the rule or School Code section involved, and
  • a brief description of the issue.
  • Appeals are forwarded to the General Assembly in the next report submitted.
  • The General Assembly must consider the appeals contained in the report the next time it reconvenes following receipt of the report. The General Assembly has 60 calendar days after reconvening to disapprove any appeals contained in the report. If it does not act to disapprove any appeals during that time period, then the appeals are deemed granted.
>