SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Lawmakers here recently passed legislation that expands school districts' ability to offer free transportation to students who would otherwise walk to school through areas with serious safety hazards, including criminal gang activity.
Public Act 100-1142, which took effect last November, allows school districts to provide free transportation to students who live within 1.5 miles of their school, if by walking, those students would have to encounter a serious safety hazard due to vehicular traffic, railroad crossings, or criminal gang activity. The act states that school districts may determine that a course or pattern of criminal gang activity, as defined in Section 10 of the Illinois Streetgang Terrorism Omnibus Prevention Act, exists along certain roads or streets by conducting a study and having the results approved by local law enforcement.
While school districts are not obligated to transport students who live within 1.5 miles of their school, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) will reimburse those districts for the cost of transporting those students, according to a news release from the agency.
ISBE has also provided resources for implementing the legislation, including a template letter parents can use to request that the school district review the streets that students travel to school to determine whether a serious safety hazard exists.