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January 2023

Dear Extra Mile Readers:

Welcome to 2023! We hope you had a restful and rejuvenating holiday season and are ready to hit the ground running as the school year resumes. This month's edition of the Extra Mile is longer than usual, thanks in large part to a slew of lawsuits and appellate court decisions as 2022 drew to a close, but we trust you will find the information instructive. Enjoy!

Appellate Court Upholds Connecticut’s Policy Allowing Transgender Girls to Compete in Female High School Sports

A federal appellate court upheld the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging a Connecticut policy allowing transgender student athletes to compete in high school athletic competitions based on their gender identity. This decision allows transgender students to continue to compete in high school sports based on their gender identity. Read more...

Michelle Todd

Appellate Court Upholds Florida School’s Policy on Bathroom Access Based on Biological Sex

A federal appellate court ruled that a Florida school district’s policy of separating school bathrooms based on biological sex is constitutional, creating a split among appellate courts on whether transgender students have a protected right to use the school restroom and locker room facilities that align with their gender identity. Read more...

Jessica Nguyen

Employer Vaccinate-or-Test Policies Not Protected by the HCRCA

Two employees who were discharged after refusing to comply with their employer’s COVID-19 vaccinate-or-test policy were denied recovery under the Health Care Right of Conscience Act (“Act”). Recent amendments to the Act expressly remove employer policies intended to prevent contraction or transmission of COVID-19 from its protections. Read more...

Jason Manning

EEOC Sues Employer For Failure to Accommodate Religious Objection to Flu Vaccine Mandate

On December 15, 2022, the EEOC filed a lawsuit against a Georgia pediatric healthcare system alleging that the employer discriminated against an employee on the basis of religion when it fired him after he requested a religious exemption to a flu vaccination requirement. Although this is not the same issue as Illinois’ vaccinate-or-test litigation, it indicates the EEOC’s stance towards religious accommodations for flu vaccination requirements. Read more...

Frazier Satterly

Department of Education Updates Guidance for Use of ESSER and GEER Funds

The Department of Education (DOE) recently updated its guidance on ESSER and GEER funding to include more information on a variety of topics, including disposition rules for equipment and supplies, reporting requirements for construction and land purchase, and expanded details and examples of the general scope of use of funds for reopening schools safely and promoting the health and safety of students, staff, and the school community, advancing educational equity, and using funds to support educators and staff, and well as further clarification on obligating and liquidating ESSER and GEER funds. Read more...

Heather Brickman

Court Upholds Reinstatement of Police Officer Fired Over Social Media Posts

An Illinois appellate court upheld an arbitrator’s decision that reinstated a police officer who was fired for making racially insensitive posts on Facebook, including posting a photo of himself wearing a t-shirt with the phrase “Baby Daddy Removal Team.”  Read more...

Jeff Goelitz

Two Consecutive “Needs Improvement” Ratings Can Lead to Remediation Plan

An Illinois appellate court has ruled that school districts do not violate the School Code by placing tenured teachers who receive two consecutive “needs improvement” ratings on a formal Remediation Plan, pursuant to a negotiated provision in their evaluation plan. Read more...

Ellen Rothenberg

Employer Not Required to Mail Personnel File to Employee’s Representative

An employer may reject an employee’s request to review personnel records where the request does not comply with the plain language of the Illinois Personnel Record Review ActRead more...

Tina Christofalos

New Trial for Former Teacher Who Poured Liquid Nitrogen on Student 

A chemistry teacher poured liquid nitrogen on a student as part of a demonstration and was then criminally convicted for doing so. The appellate court determined that the jury’s findings were legally inconsistent and sent the case back to the lower court for a new trial. Read more...

Mary Karagiannis


Hodges Loizzi once again will feature prominently at IASPA's Annual Conference on January 26-27, 2023, in Lisle:

  • Cindi DeCola will be presenting a keynote, "Faith's Law - Her Story and Next Steps," with Faith Colson (Thursday, 1/26, 1:30-3:00 PM in the Regency Ballroom)

  • Barbara Erickson will be presenting "How Can I Help You? A Systematic Approach to Accommodating Employees" (Thursday, 1/26, 10:00-11:00 AM in the Aspen Ballroom)

  • Jeff Goelitz will be presenting "Tips, Traps, and Timelines for Effective Evaluations, PDPs, and Remediation Plans" (Friday, 1/27, 8:30-9:30 AM in the Cypress Ballroom)

  • Tony Loizzi will be presenting "Collective Bargaining in 2023 During High Inflation and Staff Shortages" (Friday, 1/27, 9:45-10:45 AM in the Birch/Hickory Ballroom)

And we are proud to once again sponsor the IASPA conference's President’s Reception and Raffle. Join us Thursday (1/26) in the Birch/Hickory Ballroom from 3:00-4:00 for complimentary drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and IASPA's annual raffle.

Register for the IASPA Annual Conference

On February 23, 2023, Michelle Todd and Jessica Nguyen will be presenting at the IAASE Winter Conference in Springfield on “Addressing Student Aggression: Applicable Law and Practical Guidance.”

Register for the IAASE Winter Conference


  • As you approach the middle of the school year, districts in receipt of ARP-ESSER funds should remember to post their reopening plan and periodically, but no less frequently than every six months, review and, as appropriate, revise the plan. Public input should be sought in determining whether to revise the plan and on revisions, if revisions are necessary. The initial posting deadline for a district’s reopening plan was 30 days after being awarded ARP-ESSER funds, and the requirement to periodically review the plan continues during the period of the ARP-ESSER award (i.e., until September 30, 2023).

  • Remember your statutory and CBA deadlines for reductions-in-force and end-of-year dismissals of teachers and educational support employees. Contact Ellen Rothenberg, Tina Christofalos, or Chris Hoffmann with your evaluation, dismissal, or RIF inquiries. 

  • Review the need for non-renewal of employment contracts or administrative reclassifications to teaching positions. Be aware of possible impact on the RIF process.

  • Remember to complete Principal and Assistant Principal evaluations by March 1, and give any reclassification notices to Principals and Assistant Principals by April 1.

  • 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. 


Latest figures: November 2022

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.