PASSING A SCHOOL BUS IN ILLINOIS

You saw the school bus, but you honestly didn’t see the stop sign extending from it. So you drove past the bus, and next thing you know, a police car signaled you to pull over. You would never intentionally disobey a school bus sign, and the whole thing is extremely upsetting.

What is the law? What can you do?

In Illinois, you must stop before passing a school bus from either direction when the bus is signaling a stop by either a stop sign or flashing lights. You may not drive forward until the school bus proceeds, the bus driver signals to you, or the visual signals are no longer activated. See 625 ILCS 5/11-1414.

There are exceptions to this rule: You need not stop for a school bus on the opposite side of a highway that has four or more lanes with at least two lanes of traffic in opposite directions. You also do not need to stop for a bus on either side of the road if the bus is in a paved loading zone adjacent to a controlled access highway where pedestrians are not permitted to cross.

Apart from fines, you may lose your license for three months if convicted on a first offense, and for one year on a second or later offense that occurred within five years of a prior conviction. You may, however, be able to get a restricted driving permit to travel to work.

If you have been charged with overtaking a school bus or similar offense, contact an experienced traffic law attorney immediately. Was the bus signaling a stop? What was the nature of the roadway? Even if the evidence is clear, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to persuade the prosecutor to reduce the charge to a less damaging offense.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

WHAT CAN I EXPECT WHEN MY CHILD HAS BEEN CHARGED WITH STATUTORY RAPE IN ILLINOIS?

Your son has been dating a16-year-old girl from his high school for several months. Although you cautioned him about premarital sex, everything you said went in one ear and out the other. To make matters worse, her father found out right after your son turned 18. Now he is facing criminal charges for statutory rape and expulsion from school.

What is statutory rape? What are the penalties? What can you do?

In Illinois, statutory rape means sexual penetration or conduct with someone at least 13 and less than 17 years old if you are no more than 5 years older than your partner. It is also statutory rape if you are under age 17 and have sex with someone at least 9 but under 17 years of age. Statutory rape is not the same as forcible rape. (See 720 ILCS 5/11-1.50(b) and (c)).

Your child could also be subject to expulsion from school. If you receive a disciplinary notice from your school, contact an attorney immediately. Do not try to talk to the school yourself as this can often work against your child and may provide evidence that the state can later use to prosecute your child.

Statutory rape is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail. Crazy though it may seem, your high school student could also end up on the sex offender registry, although a recent court decision indicated this punishment might be excessive.

In People v Kochevar, the defendant, then 16, met a girl, then 14, through high school track. The two had sex after he turned 18. The girl’s parents called the police. The defendant was convicted of one count of criminal sexual abuse. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail (all but 10 were suspended) and 24 months of probation. Further, he had to register as a sex offender, undergo sex offender treatment and aftercare, provide a DNA sample and pay various fines. Despite Illinois case law stating that the registry is not actually punishment, the Kochevar court held that the registry was disproportionately punitive to defendant. As a result, the court vacated that part of defendant’s sentence.

If your child has been charged with statutory rape or a similar crime, contact a qualified attorney immediately. An attorney can review your child’s case for his or her best possible defense. An attorney can also help you navigate through school procedures and possibly negotiate a more favorable outcome for your child’s education.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois school matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

CAN MY FAMILY HELP ME PROVE I LIVE IN MY SCHOOL DISTRICT?

Your child’s school mailed you a letter, which came back as “undeliverable.” From that, the school inferred that you really live outside their district. They had an inspector watch your home, and now they are threatening to kick out your child and stick you with the bill.

Once you receive notice of a residency challenge, you will likely need to request a hearing. Be forewarned that a school residency hearing can often be an uphill battle. While some hearing officers are quite fair, it is the school district who pays him or her. Therefore, the hearing officer has every reason to keep the school happy, if at all possible. In order to have any hope of winning, you must overwhelm the hearing officer with evidence of your residency.

While family testimony can play a role, it is simply not enough. Once a school thinks you are lying about residency, it’s hard to convince them—or the hearing officer—otherwise. You no longer get the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, your aunt’s testimony about where you live is certainly helpful, but a hearing officer may instead assume your aunt is lying to help you.

At the school hearing, it is critical to present all the evidence in your favor. You will be limited to that evidence if you later need to appeal. While your family can certainly testify, it is more effective to bring in as many friends, neighbors and acquaintances as possible.

If you receive a residency notice from your district, contact an experienced school law attorney immediately. Do not try to handle the situation yourself. Do not hire an attorney who is not familiar with this area of law. Most parents and even some attorneys do not understand the legal issues involved well enough to avoid trouble. A parent innocently trying to explain their situation could instead get handed a hefty tuition bill. And an attorney who doesn’t understand a parent’s burden of proof may hurt their client in the long run.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois school matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

YOUR CHILD’S MESSY ROOM MAY HELP PROVE SCHOOL RESIDENCY

Your school district no longer believes your child is a legal resident, and so a school inspector is coming for a home visit. Embarrassed by the trash and dirty socks, you nag your child to clean up his or her room. Well, not so fast! This is the one time a messy room is actually a good thing.

Questions about your residency may come to the school’s attention from a student’s remark or a piece of returned mail. You may then get a letter notifying you that the school will dis-enroll your child unless you request a hearing. As an alternative, the school may ask to meet you, or they may request a home visit.

During a home visit, an inspector looks for evidence that you really live where you say. With much of their time lived online, teenagers don’t collect as many things as they used to. Or maybe you are the kind of parent who spoils your child with love rather than stuff. But in this regard, a tidy room or a lack of material things works against you. Schools have actually denied residency to parents on this basis. They need to see plenty of items in the closets and drawers, posters on the wall and a toothbrush in the bathroom.

If you receive a residency notice from your district, contact an experienced school law attorney immediately. Do not try to handle the situation yourself. Most parents do not understand the legal issues involved well enough to avoid digging themselves in deeper. For example, the fact you own property or pay property taxes in the district is not a defense.

An attorney can help present the evidence of your child’s residency in the best possible light. Even if you lose at the school hearing level, it is essential to make a complete factual record before the hearing officer because an appellate court is limited to those facts in reviewing your case.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois school law matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

CAN SCHOOL OFFICIALS QUESTION MY CHILD WITHOUT A LAWYER PRESENT?

Your son got caught with contraband in his school locker. The principal hauled him in for questioning without contacting you or asking if your son wanted an attorney. Can they do that?

Generally, the answer is yes. While Illinois law prohibits police and other public officials from questioning your child without asking if he or she wants an attorney, most school officials are not considered a public official for these purposes.

Under 705 ILCS 405/5-401.5(a-5), your child’s statement is presumed inadmissible as evidence if an officer or public official takes your child’s statement during a custodial interrogation without first reading your child his or her Miranda rights. The officer must then ask: (A) Do you want to have a lawyer? and (B) Do you want to talk to me?

Unless a school official’s primary duty is protecting the public interest or enforcing the law, he or she is not required to comply with the above procedure. (See In re Jose A.).

If your child has been charged with a crime, contact an experienced school or juvenile law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your child’s case for its best possible defense. What if the school official who questioned your child was instead the school security officer? Was the questioning proper? Can the state prove all the elements of your child’s offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if your child has already admitted to the crime, an attorney can help protect his or her rights.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois school or juvenile matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

MY CHILD DIDN’T MEAN IT: THREATENING A SCHOOL IN ILLINOIS

Your child really is a good kid. But like many teens, he is still pushing his limits, which can result in some pretty bone-headed behavior. Now, the school is upset over something he posted on Facebook. You know he was just being silly, but the school isn’t laughing. Instead, your child faces both expulsion from school and criminal charges.

Under the typical school code of conduct, your child’s threats may be considered “Gross Misconduct.” Penalties may range from a parent conference to expulsion. In some cases, the school may still expel your child after a suspension.

Before that happens, you have a right to a hearing. The hearing may take place before a hearing officer who will then make recommendations to the school board for action. If it becomes necessary to appeal the school board’s decision, the appellate court will be limited to any evidence presented at that hearing. Therefore, obtaining competent legal advice is critical as soon as you receive notice of your child’s misconduct. Many a well-intentioned parent has damaged their child’s case because they did not thoroughly understand the legal issues involved.

At the criminal or juvenile court level, your child could be charged with disorderly conduct. Under (720 ILCS 5/26-1(a)(3.5)), it is disorderly conduct to knowingly transmit or cause to be transmitted a threat of destruction of school property, or a threat of violence, death, or bodily harm directed against persons at a school. Such a violation is a Class 4 Felony punishable by one to four years in prison.

In a criminal case, the state must prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case. Did your child knowingly make a threat?

An attorney can also try to negotiate a reduced punishment or more favorable plea agreement from both the school and the prosecutor.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or school law matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

WASTING A TEACHABLE MOMENT: Student charged with felony for recording principal at school

It could have been a teachable moment.

Instead, Paul Boron, a 13-year-old middle school student in Manteno, IL, is facing felony charges.

Did he slip someone a date rape drug at a party? Was he dealing drugs? Was he sexting? None of the above. His crime: recording a conversation between himself and his principal without the principal’s consent in violation of Illinois’s eavesdropping law. The Illinois law requires the consent of all parties when recording a private conversation.

The school district and the justice system could have taken this opportunity to educate Boron and other students about the law. Instead, they took an unduly heavy-handed approach.

The Manteno District Handbook prohibits students from violating criminal law, including eavesdropping. Under district guidelines, Boron could have received a disciplinary conference, detention or suspension, among other options. But the district preferred to press criminal charges.

In my practice, I have seen my share of cases where a school district’s punishment exceeds the crime. Middle and high school students do pretty foolish things. A district could use its authority to teach and correct those students rather than punish. Saddling a 13-year-old with a criminal record for a minor transgression serves no purpose and wastes taxpayer money.

If your child is facing disciplinary proceedings at school and/or criminal charges, you should contact a qualified attorney immediately. Parents often believe they can reason with a school district themselves, but many times this strategy sadly backfires. An attorney can review your child’s situation for his or her best options. Those options can include representing the child at a hearing or negotiating an exit strategy from the school.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or school matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source: Manteno Teen Facing Felony Eavesdropping Charge for Recording Meeting with School Administrators.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

ILLINOIS EASES LAW ON DELIVERING DRUGS NEAR SCHOOL GROUNDS

As of January 1, 2018, the Illinois law on delivering cannabis or other controlled substances near school grounds has become just a little less strict.

The old law penalized manufacturing, delivering or possessing with intent to deliver cannabis or other controlled or look-alike substances within 1000 feet of school property, which also applied to school-owned transportation. It did not matter if no students were nearby or the school no longer operated as a school.

Under the new law, the distance has been reduced to 500 feet. Further, the fact a school is or was a school is no longer enough. The amended law requires that persons under 18 are present or are reasonably expected to be present when the offense occurs, or that the offense be committed during school hours, including after-school activities.

The law’s changes also apply to buildings used for religious worship or to senior citizen centers, when people are present or are reasonably expected to be present or the buildings are open for such activities.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for its best possible defense. As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Perhaps you were more than 500 feet from the school or the school was empty. Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois school, criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

For further information, see:

  • Illinois Delivery of Cannabis on School Grounds Statute
  • Manufacture or Delivery, or Possession with Intent to Manufacture or Deliver, a Controlled Substance, a Counterfeit Substance, or Controlled Substance Analog
  • Participation in Methamphetamine Manufacturing.
  • (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    SCHOOL RESIDENCY FRAUD CAN BE CHARGED AS A FELONY

    Understandably, you would like your child to get the best education in the best school district, but perhaps you can’t really afford to live there. You may be tempted to lie about your child’s real home in order to enroll them in that preferred school. But depending on the circumstances and the school district, you could end up charged with a felony.

    In February, 2018, Orland School District 135 pressed felony charges against a mother who provided an allegedly fraudulent lease for a home in District 135. The home was actually a retail establishment. After questioning, the mother continued to provide allegedly fake documents, leading to her arrest for felony forgery. (See Woman Charged with Forgery after Giving School False Address).

    Most school districts do not carry matters quite so far. They may simply disenroll your child and bill you several thousand dollars in tuition. However, the option of pressing criminal charges for at least a Class C Misdemeanor is always possible.

    If you receive notice from your child’s school questioning their residency, contact an experienced school law attorney immediately. Many parents make the mistake of trying to handle the situation themselves, but they are often unprepared for what they are walking into. By the time, they call an attorney, the facts of the case have already been established and the attorney’s hands may be tied. Furthermore, once a school believes you are lying, it is very difficult to convince them otherwise. Your words are often twisted against you.

    An attorney can review your situation to see if you have a genuine claim to residency. If so, the attorney can present evidence to the school accordingly. Even if your child is not a legal resident, an attorney may be able to negotiate an agreement that allows you to leave the school district without facing criminal charges or possibly paying tuition.

    If you have questions about Illinois school residency, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

    IF MY CHILD IS EXPELLED, CAN I ENROLL THEM IN PRIVATE SCHOOL?

    The answer is probably not, although there are exceptions.

    You just received notice that your child is in trouble and may be suspended or expelled. You have a right to a hearing and an attorney. Instead, you think you will simply enroll your child in private school.

    But there is a catch. Private schools generally require that new students produce a certificate of good standing. If your child is expelled, they will not be in good standing, and many private schools will not consider them.

    Some schools will make exceptions on a case to case basis, but this is far from guaranteed. The schools most likely to accept an expelled student tend to have a strong religious orientation. Depending on your own beliefs, this may not be an option. Furthermore, many Catholic schools will not accept expelled students.

    If you do receive a notice of disciplinary action against your child, you should take the notice seriously and contact an experienced school law attorney for legal advice. While an attorney cannot guarantee success, parents without attorneys are often disregarded by the school. An attorney can review your child’s situation for their best options. For example, an attorney may help negotiate a voluntary withdrawal from the school so your child can attend private school. Or the attorney can help present your child’s situation in its best possible light at the disciplinary hearing.

    If the school board expels your child, your only option may be to go to court to keep your child in school until the disciplinary matter can be further resolved. This can be prohibitively expensive and the outcome is still not guaranteed.

    If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

    (Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)