Overview of the Waiver Process
(revised December 2012)
The following describes in a question-and answer format how an eligible applicant can seek a waiver or modification of mandates contained in the School Code or in the State Board of Education's administrative rules (see for a complete list of administrative rules). Click on a question to view the answer.
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:
- Eligible entities may petition the State Board of Education for General Assembly approval of waivers of School Code mandates for the following reasons only:
- 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:
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
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:
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.
- 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:
- 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:
- 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.