FaraciSPRINGFIELD – A new law sponsored by State Senator Paul Faraci that will ensure children living with disabilities have extra accommodations during school emergencies was signed by the governor.

"This new law will ensure that families know that the safety plan for their child is well-documented during their annual IEP meetings, and they will know the expectation during drills so they can better prepare the child,” said Faraci (D-Champaign). “This is a serious issue facing people with developmental disabilities, and I am proud that we were able to make a real difference for the safety of our children.”

This law provides that extra accommodations needed for a student during emergencies must be taken into account when developing their Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a federal Section 504 plan. It also requires administrators and school support personnel to include a student's IEP team or Section 504 plan team when making a decision about whether to exclude the student from a walk-through lock down drill.

An Individualized Education Plan or Program is a comprehensive document developed to ensure that a student with an identified disability who is attending an elementary or secondary educational institution receives specialized instruction and related services. The IEP is developed by a team of individuals from various educational disciplines, the student with a disability, family members and designated advocates. A Section 504 Plan provides reasonable instructional accommodations and modifications to which the student is entitled, based on the student's individual needs. Faraci’s law ensures that any accommodations the student needs during emergencies will be documented in the student’s IEP or Section 504 plan. For example, an IEP might document that a student who is extremely sensitive to loud noises will need noise-canceling ear protection during fire drills.

“Thank you so much to State Senator Paul Faraci for getting this law passed in the state of Illinois,” said Nicole Morgan, a middle school parent who lives in the district Faraci represents. “The safety of all children is so important but sometimes we assume all children can follow the same safety procedures. Children with disabilities, physical or invisible, need to have safety procedures that fit their abilities. Our child has a hard time walking up and down stairs and uses the elevator frequently. In the case of a fire, the elevators are shut down so everyone has to use the stairs. For years, we have been concerned about how our child would get to safety in such a situation, especially as he grows into a young man. Because of this law, my husband and I can have peace of mind and know that there is a plan in place for the safety of our child in any kind of crisis.”

House Bill 3680 was signed into law on Friday and takes effect Jan. 1, 2024.