Wheeler bill signed into law to streamline hiring of teachers at Illinois Youth Centers

NORTH AURORA – Governor Rauner has signed bipartisan legislation into law introduced by State Representative Keith Wheeler, R-Oswego, streamlining the process to hire teachers at an Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice (IDJJ) facility. The legislation, House Bill 5005, was signed into law on August 19 as Public Act 100-0953.

Specifically, the new law eliminates a provision in state law that requires the Illinois Department of Central Management Services (CMS) to verify the license of a teacher employed by IDJJ if the license has already been verified by the Illinois State Board of Education. Removing this duplicative verification requirement improves the ability of IDJJ to attract and retain quality educators at Illinois Youth Centers.

“Teachers at our juvenile justice facilities encounter unique challenges educating students committed to an Illinois Youth Center. Jumping through hoops of getting their educator license verified by two different state agencies should not be one of them,” Representative Wheeler said. “This new law streamlines the verification process and supports the critical work of our IDJJ educators across Illinois.”

Under the terms of a Court-mandated agreement dating back to April 2014, IDJJ is mandated to provide at least five hours of instruction per day to all youth committed to an IDJJ facility. IDJJ is also required to maintain a student-to-teacher ratio of 10:1 or lower for a general classroom setting and 6:1 or lower for students with intensive needs.

There are five Illinois Youth Centers administered by IDJJ throughout the state; located in Chicago, St. Charles, Warrenville, Grafton and Harrisburg. A sixth youth center located in Kewanee closed in 2016. IDJJ also operates School District #428, responsible for the education of youth within IDJJ and inmates age 21 or under within the Illinois Department of Corrections who have not yet earned a high school diploma or a General Educational Development (GED) certificate. School District #428 is permitted to establish primary, secondary, vocational, adult, special and advanced educational schools as necessary.

For questions or more information, please call Representative Wheeler’s office at (630) 345-3464.  

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