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lena ayala-martinez

Director of Student Special Services
(708) 758-5190 x5105

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Faith’s Law to Safeguard Against Sexual Abuse in Schools

On December 3rd, 2021, Governor Pritzker signed Faith’s Law, P.A. 102-0676 (HB 1976), into law. Faith’s Law expands the criminal definition of grooming beyond electronic communications to include written communications and acts committed in person or by conduct through a third party. The law also makes it clear that mandated reporters must report suspected grooming to DCFS under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act.

In addition to expanding the criminal definition of grooming, Faith’s Law includes several new requirements for schools and educators intended to prevent sexual abuse and misconduct in schools. Faith’s Law adds a completely new section to the Illinois School Code (105 ILCS 5/22-85.5) pertaining to sexual misconduct in schools. This section applies beginning July 1st, 2022, and requires all school districts, charter schools, and nonpublic schools to develop an employee code of professional conduct policy that must be made available on the school’s website and included in any staff, student, or parent handbook.

This employee code of professional conduct policy must address the following:

  • Incorporate the Code of Ethics for Illinois Educators;
  • Incorporate the statutory definition of “sexual misconduct” in Section 22-85.5;
  • Identify expectations for maintaining professional relationships with students and appropriate staff-student boundaries, recognizing the age and developmental level of the students served, and establish guidelines for the following situations: (1) transporting a student, (2) taking or possessing a photo or a video of a student, and (3) meeting with a student or contacting a student outside of the employee’s or agent’s professional role;
  • Reference employee reporting requirements under the Abused and Neglected Child Reporting Act and Title IX; and
  • Reference required employee training related to child abuse and educator ethics applicable under State or federal law.

The law specifically provides that any violation of the employee code of professional conduct or failure to report a violation may subject an employee to discipline, up to and including dismissal from employment.

The second legislation, Public Act 102-0702, went into effect on July 1st, 2023. It focuses on the prevention of “sexual misconduct” as defined in the first part of the legislation (Public Act 102-0676) by school employees, substitute employees, and employees of contractors. Specifically, the Act adds employment history reviews as part of the hiring and vetting process, requires notices to be provided to parents/guardians and the applicable student when there’s an alleged act of sexual misconduct, and makes other changes to the process schools must follow when handling allegations of sexual misconduct.

The following forms are from the
Illinois State Board of Education pertaining to Faith's Law

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Authorization for release of sexual misconduct-related information and current/former employer response

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ISBE Sexual Misconduct Disclosure

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Sexual Abuse Response and Prevention Resource Guide

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Faith's Law Guidance and FAQ