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Illinois expands learning opportunities for special needs students

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation on Wednesday, July 28 that allows students who turn 22 to continue learning through the end of that school year.

CHICAGO — Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law on Wednesday, July 28 that will expand learning opportunities for special needs students in the state.

Under the previous law, special needs students were required to leave school the day they they turned 22-years-old. Now, they can continue attending through the end of the school year in which they turn 22.

“I strongly believe that a core principle of governance is ensuring that our laws are kind to the people they are meant to serve. And there’s nothing kind about taking a student with disabilities out of the classroom on October 16th, or January 5th, or April 19th, just because they turned another day older,” said Governor JB Pritzker. “It doesn’t happen to general education students, and it shouldn’t happen to our students with special needs either.”

The new law also allows special needs students who recently turned 22 and were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic to continue educational services through the 2021-2022 school year.

“Zoom classes were particularly difficult for this cohort of students and has left students and their families with even fewer options then they might have had with in person instruction,” said State Representative Suzanne Ness (D-Crystal Lake). “For these students, their final year is critical to helping them transition to whatever is next.”

The law is effective immediately.