Proposed Amendments to Part 252 (Driver Education)
This set of amendments responds to several pieces of recent legislation, each of which is explained below.
P.A. 96-1374, effective July 29, 2010, established the Instructional Mandates Task Force, which was charged with reviewing instructional mandates currently placed on school districts and making recommendations regarding the relaxation or elimination of those mandates. The task force issued its report in June 2011, and of particular interest to the group were mandates concerning driver education. The task force focused on one regulatory requirement that, if modified, could “expand opportunities for students to access a quality driver education program sponsored by their high schools”. Specifically, the task force suggested increasing flexibility of school districts to offer behind-the-wheel instruction before and after school, in the evening or on weekends without the need to also offer it during the regular school day. (See Section 252.20(b).) This proposed change will assist school districts that are no longer allowed to use simulators, range driving and the like to meet the behind-the-wheel requirement, as those options were eliminated from the law and rules in 2009.
P.A. 97-1025, effective January 1, 2013, made several changes that affect Part 252. First, the public act amended Section 2-3.25g of the School Code relative to requirements for school districts that, through a waiver of agency rules, enter into a contract to provide driver’s education through a commercial driving school. New Section 252.20(e)(2) reminds school districts of their obligation to post the contract with the commercial driver school in its internet website or to make it available upon request, notify the State Board of any personnel changes, and maintain records of all materials related to the waiver application for the term of the waiver’s approval.
Additionally, P.A. 97-1025 amended Section 27-24.4 of the School Code, regarding reimbursement for students completing driver’s education. The law clarifies the responsibility a school district of residence of a nonpublic school student, the school district where the student enrolls in driver’s education or the student’s parents have for the cost (as defined in the law) of the driver’s education course. Under the law, a school district is required to provide driver’s education for any eligible student who attends a nonpublic school located within its boundaries, and the student’s district of residence reimburses the nonresident district for the cost of providing the course. In some cases, the amount that the resident district was required to reimburse to the nonresident district exceeded the resident district’s cost of providing the course.
As a remedy, the law now provides that the parents of the nonpublic school student are responsible for reimbursing the nonresident district the amount that exceeds the cost of providing the course by the resident district. Should the nonpublic student choose to take the course in another district (i.e., not his or her resident district nor the one where the nonpublic is located), then his or her parents would pay the full cost of the course. The nonpublic school student can continue to take the course at his or her resident district on the same basis as other students who are enrolled in the district. A cross-reference to this statutory provision is proposed in Section 252.30(a)(2).
Finally, P.A. 97-1025 added Section 27-24.9 of the School Code, which requires the State Board of Education, in consultation with the Secretary of State (SOS), to adopt course content standards for driver education. SOS drafted proposed standards, which address operation and equipment of motor vehicles, and will be placing those into its rules this month. A cross-reference to the standards is proposed in the State Board’s rules at Section 252.20(c)(1).
In late summer, SOS’s proposed standards were shared with several education-related organizations, including the Illinois High School and College Driver Education Association, Illinois Association of School Boards, and Illinois Education Association, as well as City of Chicago School District 299 and the Illinois State Police. Only the high school driver education association raised any concerns, asking that the State Board adopt its classroom standards instead. Staff compared the driver education association’s standards with the ones proposed by SOS and concluded that while the association provided greater detail in its document concerning curriculum and lesson plans, its learning objectives aligned with SOS’s standards. Since the standards will apply to any course designed for drivers under age 18, whether offered by public schools or commercial driver schools, staff believe it is preferably to have a single set of standards that apply to all programs and opted to incorporate those developed by SOS.
P.A. 97-607, effective August 26, 2011, has resulted in minor changes being proposed in Section 252.40 regarding the issuance of “licenses” rather “certificates”. This law created the educator licensure system, which will take effect July 1, 2013, necessitating the change in terminology used in this Part.
Other technical changes also are proposed to clarify certain of the rules’ requirements, in particular Section 252.20(c)(3), which acknowledges that the requirement for a student driver to have observers in the car during behind-the-wheel instruction would not apply if a student’s Individualized Education Program stipulates otherwise.
Initial Review by State Board of Education: December 2012