Article 7 of the School Code of Illinois charges the Regional Board of School Trustees with primary responsibility for deciding issues of school district reorganization. This includes accepting or rejecting proposals for school district boundary changes – annexations and detachments, consolidations, divisions, and dissolutions. The Regional Board is a popularly elected body consisting of seven members, not fewer than one of whom must reside in each county of a multi-county region.
Quarterly meetings are scheduled the first Monday in January, April, July, and October unless there is no business for the agenda, in which case the meetings may be canceled. Special meetings may be held at the discretion of the Board. The Regional Superintendent of Schools serves as ex-officio secretary for the Regional Board of School Trustees, but the Superintendent is not a voting member of the Board.
How to Petition for Detachment and Annexation
The Charge to Regional Board of School Trustees in Detachment Proceedings
In regard to the granting of a detachment petition, “Illinois courts have consistently held that the denial of a petition…cannot be based on the fear of setting a precedent. The courts have also held that where there is no great detriment or benefit to either district…, then the determinations should be made upon the welfare of the pupil(s).”
Regional Boards of Trustees should consider the following factors in making their decisions on a
HOW TO FILE A PETITION FOR DETACHMENT AND ANNEXATION
The following steps must be taken to petition the Regional Board of School Trustees for the Regional Office of Education #21 to consider the transfer of territory from one school district to another district:
The changing of school boundaries is a very serious matter. Petitions for changing of school boundaries are not granted unless there is a preponderance of evidence that the change is in the best interest of schools and/or students.
Question: With what body is a detachment or annexation petition filed?
Answer: A detachment or annexation petition is filed with the appropriate regional board(s) of school trustees.
Question: When a petition seeks to detach territory in two educational service regions, is approval of both Regional Boards of School Trustees necessary?
Answer: It depends. If the territory being detached is located within more than one region then the petition shall be filed with the regional board of school trustees of the region in which the regional superintendent has supervision over the greatest portion of such territory. If the territory being detached is in one region and the petition prays for it to be attached to different region, a joint hearing is held, but approval of both regional boards is required.
Question: What happens following the filing of a detachment and annexation petition?
Answer: The secretary of the regional board of school trustees:
Question: Who bears the burden of proof in a detachment or annexation proceeding?
Answer: The petitioners bear the burden of proof in a detachment or annexation proceeding.
Question: What factors must regional boards consider in ruling on detachment petitions?
Answer: The regional board of school trustees must consider:
Question: May a regional board of school trustees amend a detachment or annexation petition?
Answer: No. In ruling on a detachment or annexation petition, a Regional Board of School Trustees may allow or deny a petition but cannot modify it.
Question: May a detachment petition be granted solely based on expanded educational opportunities for a student?
Answer: When there are no countervailing factors, and when the best interests of the children involved are served by the detachment, the courts usually apply the “whole child” and “community of interest” tests.
Question: What is the benefit-detriment analysis?
Answer: The benefit-detriment analysis is used to determine whether the benefit derived from the annexation of the affected territory will outweigh the detriment to the losing district, the territory, and the community as a whole.
Question: May the regional board of school trustees consider parental preference and convenience in deciding a petition for detachment and annexation?
Answer: While they may be treated as one factor in ruling on the detachment petition, parental preference and convenience alone are usually insufficient.
Question: What considerations apply to detachment and annexation petitions involving territory where no students reside?
Answer: In detachment and annexation hearings concerning property that is either uninhabited and/or in which no students reside, it is the duty of the regional board of school trustees to determine whether the annexation would be beneficial to the educational welfare of any pupils who might later reside in that area. Educational welfare is to be determined by considering whether or not the territory involved is part of an integral or main activity of the community served by the receiving school district, the residential potential of the tract of land involved, and the distance students would travel along and across any heavily traveled roads in order to attend school.
Question: Who may appeal an annexation, detachment, or dissolution decision of a regional board of school trustees?
Answer: Any resident who appears at the hearing or any petitioner may file a complaint for judicial review within 35 days of service of the decision by registered mail in detachment annexation cases and within 10 days of service of the decision by registered mail in dissolution annexation cases. A board of education of a district affected by an annexation or detachment may appeal, but a board of education lacks standing to appeal a dissolution.
Question: What happens if an annexation, detachment, or dissolution decision of a regional board of school trustees is appealed?
Answer: If a decision of a regional board of school trustees is appealed, the complaint for judicial review operates as a stay of enforcement, and there is no enforcement of the decision until there is final disposition of the review. This means the entire matter of the dissolution, detachment, or annexation is in limbo until all appeals have been exhausted.
Question: What happens if the regional board of school trustees fails to act on a detachment, annexation, division, or dissolution petition?
Answer: If within nine months after a petition is submitted under Section 7-1 of the School Code the regional board of school trustees fails to approve or deny the petition, the school boards or registered voters of the districts affected that submitted the petition (or the committee of ten) may submit a copy of the petition directly to the State Superintendent of Education for approval or denial.