State Bill Reducing Barriers to Local School Councils Moves to Final Vote

Attorneys Jenny Terrell of Chicago Lawyers’ Committee and Steven Monroy of MALDEF in Springfield.

Attorneys Jenny Terrell of Chicago Lawyers’ Committee and Steven Monroy of MALDEF in Springfield.

Senate Bill 453 (“Promoting Inclusive Local School Councils”), which passed the Illinois Senate in April, received support yesterday in the Illinois House. During a committee hearing, Skadden Legal Fellow Jenny Terrell testified alongside Steven Monroy of MALDEF about the barriers facing Black and Brown parents and community members who are eligible to serve on Local School Councils. The bill passed out of committee in a 5-2 vote and will now head to the full House for a vote.

SB 453, which was written with input from community members, would decrease barriers faced by parents and community members who want to become a member of a Local School Council (LSC). In Chicago, LSCs are an important way for parents, school staff, and community members to get involved in their local schools. Formed 30 years ago to give community members the chance to share in the decision-making process in their local school, LSCs provide the only opportunity for direct democratic participation in school governance, as Chicago’s school board members are all appointed.

However, too many Chicago residents still face barriers to participation in an LSC. A recently enforced fingerprinting requirement has had the effect of jeopardizing some of our most vulnerable community members and ultimately discouraging their participation, especially those navigating the immigration system and those who have had contact with the criminal justice system. This bill removes the overly broad fingerprinting requirement while preserving the background checks that will keep students secure, helping promote diversity in LSCs and ensuring they accurately reflect the needs and values of our communities.

We are thrilled with the widespread support for this bill in the House of Representatives, and we are thankful to our many sponsors, including Rep. Celina Villanueva, Rep. Kelly M. Cassidy, Rep. Theresa Mah, Rep. Marcus C. Evans, Jr., Rep. M. Ortiz, Rep. Robyn Gabel, Rep. Will Guzzardi, Rep. Emanuel Chris Welch, Rep. André Thapedi, and Rep. Barbara Hernandez. On the Senate side, we are grateful for our sponsors Sen. Omar Aquino, Sen. Iris Martinez, Sen. Robert Peters, Sen. Kimberly Lightford, Sen. Ram Villivalam, Sen. Jacqueline Collins, Sen. Mattie Hunter, and Sen. Napoleon Harris.

Thank you as well to MALDEF, Enlace, Parents 4 Teachers and Raise Your Hand Action for their hard work and tireless advocacy for this bill. Our work on Senate Bill 453 is a collaboration between our Education Equity Project and our Voting Rights Project.