New in Schools, Part II: Amendments to Student Administrative Transfer Procedures

by Maureen Anichini Lemon

Public Act 103-0473 recently revised Article 13A of the School Code to allow schools to “immediately” transfer students determined to be subject to suspension or expulsion to an alternative school program. Nevertheless, students remain entitled to the same due process rights (including a hearing before the school board) that they receive prior to an expulsion.

Beginning January 1, 2024, certain information must be provided to the parents/guardians prior to an Article 13A transfer to an alternative school, including: the specific nature of the curriculum; the number of students in the program; any available services; the program’s disciplinary policies; a typical daily schedule; and any extracurricular activities that may be offered at the alternative school program.

The transferring school and alternative school personnel must still convene a meeting at the earliest time following the transfer to develop an alternative education plan. The student, parents and/or guardians must be invited to this meeting. The transferring school district and alternative school program may convene the meeting to develop the alternative education plan without the student and their parent/guardian if they are unable to attend that meeting. Then, the appropriate staff from the alternative school program shall provide a copy of the alternative education plan to the student and their parents/guardians and offer a meeting within 30 days after the effective date of the transfer to the student and the student’s parents or guardians to discuss and provide input on the student’s alternative educational plan.

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Description automatically generated The plan must also now include transitioning the student back to the transferring school at the end of the plan, in addition to specifying (1) the date after which the student shall return to the transferring school district; (2) the academic and behavioral components; and (3) a method and time frame for reviewing the student’s progress. This will include a transition meeting between the transferring school, the alternative school program and the student’s parent/guardian at least 30 days prior to the return date.

Prior to January 1, 2024, a parent or guardian could object to the student’s return to the regular education program at the end of the student’s alternative transfer. Under the recent amendment, the student “shall” return to the transferring school district at the end of the plan’s duration; parents will no longer have the opportunity to object to the student’s return. The return date may be extended if agreed to in writing by the transferring school district, the alternative program and the student’s parent/guardian.

To be prepared when the need for an Article 13A transfer occurs, contact your Regional Safe Schools and other alternative school programs now to gather the requisite information that can be shared with families prior to a transfer. Confirm that the information is updated each time you need to share it with a family. Additionally, ask to see the alternative education plan template used by those programs to ensure that they contain all the statutorily required components.

If you have any questions or need guidance implementing your alternative transfer policy and procedures, please contact one of our Ottosen DiNolfo attorneys for assistance.