December 2020
Happy Holidays from Hodges Loizzi!

When the first school in the country closed for a few days in the spring due to the coronavirus, we urged school districts to hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Still, back then, no one could imagine that the worst would be this bad, for this long. While school officials do not have the ability to significantly change people’s behaviors, we can take steps to make attending schools in person safer for both students and employees. Schools should explore practical ways to implement surveillance testing to prevent the spread of the virus in schools even when there is high community spread. Schools also need to take immediate steps to identify the agency in their area that is in charge of vaccinations and coordinate with that agency so teachers and employees can receive timely vaccinations. We all can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is going to take all of us working together if we are going to come out of the tunnel into the light.

In lighter news…three weeks ago, the Chicago Bears’ playoff hopes were mostly dead. But as Miracle Max said in The Princess Bride, “There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead. Mostly dead is slightly alive.” The Bears proved Miracle Max correct with three straight wins, keeping their playoff hopes alive. Now they only need to beat the Green Bay Packers (or have the Arizona Cardinals lose) to slip into the playoffs.

With vaccinations on the way and more schools ready to reopen, we—like the Bears—control our own destiny. We are ready to work with you to make sure you have a happy and safe 2021. Happy New Year!

Pritzker’s Executive Orders Were Legal, Court Says
A Sangamon County judge overturned a Clay County judge’s ruling that was in favor of State Rep. Bailey. The Sangamon County judge found Gov. Pritzker has the authority to issue successive executive orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Click HERE to read the full article.
Supreme Court Blocks New York Governor’s Executive Order Limiting Attendance at Religious Services During COVID-19 
A newly constituted U.S. Supreme Court signaled that it will protect people’s right to the free exercise of religion—even in the face of a pandemic—by blocking New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s emergency COVID-19 Executive Order, which imposed occupancy restrictions on houses of worship that were more restrictive than other essential businesses. As a result, school officials will need to tread carefully when restricting employees’ and students’ religious liberties in an effort to avoid violating the First Amendment.

Click HERE to read the full article.
Village Violated OMA When It Muted a Brief Discussion During a Virtual Board Meeting
In a binding opinion, the Illinois Attorney General’s Public Access Counselor found that a village violated the OMA by muting the Zoom livestream of a brief “sidebar” discussion during an open meeting. At the same time, the PAC found that the village board did not violate the OMA by prohibiting physical attendance of the public because all requirements of Section 7(e) of the OMA were met. 

Click HERE to read the full article.
FFCRA Mandate Not Extended
Last week, we shared that a second COVID-19 stimulus package was in the works, and that it did not extend the mandatory leaves under FFCRA (i.e., the 10-day emergency paid sick leave or the additional 10-week expanded FMLA). President Trump signed the bill on December 27. Thus, the EPSL and E-FMLA benefits under FFCRA will expire on December 31, as originally expected, and school districts should discuss with counsel how to handle employees' COVID-related leaves in 2021.
EEOC Issues Updated Guidance on Vaccinations
Last week, we also shared that the EEOC updated its guidance to address COVID-19 vaccinations.

Click HERE to read the summary of key takeaways.
Court Now Split on Whether a School Board Has the Power to Suspend a Tenured Teacher When Teacher’s Dismissal is Reversed 
An Illinois appellate court ruled that CPS, after a hearing officer rejected the administration’s recommendation to dismiss a tenured teacher, had the implied authority to suspend the teacher without pay. This decision contradicts an Illinois appellate court ruling from earlier this year. Resolution of this issue may need to be settled by the Illinois Supreme Court. 

Click HERE to read the full article.
Spurred by COVID-19 Pandemic, Taxpayers Seek Property Tax Reductions
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, taxpayers are seeking property tax reductions by arguing that the pandemic has impacted real estate values. Taxpayers also are using new forums, and property tax officials are instituting new procedures, for these property tax claims that may affect many taxing districts’ revenues.

Click HERE to read the full article.
Disconnected TIF District Violated Contiguous-Area Requirement of TIF Law
An Illinois appellate court found in favor of a school district when it held that a TIF district failed to follow the strict requirements of the TIF statute. The TIF district was not a contiguous area, as required by the law, because two of the parcels were only connected by a natural-gas right-of-way. 

Click HERE to read the full article.
New Form 1099-NEC
The IRS introduced a new Form 1099-NEC. Beginning with tax year 2020, Form 1099-NEC (rather than Form 1099-MISC) should be used to report most nonemployee compensation of $600 or more in a year, including consulting services and certain payments to an attorney that are not for legal services. The Form 1099-NEC has an accelerated date of January 31 for both furnishing payee statements and filing with the IRS. Form 1099-MISC still should be used for certain payments, such as specified deferred compensation and payments to an attorney for legal services in the course of your trade or business. Due to the creation of the Form 1099-NEC, the Form 1099-MISC also has been revised and box numbers have been rearranged, but it retains its dates of January 31 for furnishing payee information and February 28 for filing with the IRS (March 31, if filing electronically). See the Instructions for Forms 1099-MISC and 1099-NEC here.

  • Prepare and share your support staff seniority list with your union by February 1, or any earlier date set in your CBA. Also check whether your teachers’ CBA still includes a February 1 deadline for your teacher seniority list and sequence of honorable dismissal list; if not, the statutory deadline is 75 calendar days before the end of the school term.

  • Set dates for semi-annual reviews of closed session minutes to determine whether such minutes can be publicly disclosed (typically, January and July).  

  • January 22: IASPA Annual Conference. At 8:30 a.m., Barb Erickson and Ellen Rothenberg will present “Leave Coordination FMLA and FFCRA" And at 11:00 a.m., Cindi DeCola and Jeff Goelitz will present “What Is to Come in 2021-Personnel/Labor in the Post-COVID World"

The Extra Mile is intended solely to provide information to the school community. It is neither legal advice nor a substitute for legal counsel. It is intended as advertising but not as a solicitation of an attorney/client relationship. 

Arlington Heights
3030 Salt Creek Lane, Suite 202
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
P 847.670.9000
401 SW Water Street, Suite 106
Peoria, IL 61602
P 309.671.9000
804 West US Hwy 50, Suite 220
O’Fallon, IL 62269
P 618.622.0999