Rep Bourne’s Seizure Smart Act Coming to Schools

LITCHFIELD- A new law sponsored by State Representative Avery Bourne (R-Raymond), the Seizure Smart Act, will require a plan of action for students who live with epilepsy.

“It’s important for educators to be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of seizures, and to know what to do if a child experiences a seizure while in their care,” Rep. Bourne said. “With these plans in place, students will feel safer and both parents and schools can have some peace of mind.”

House Bill 1475 requires a parent or guardian of a student with epilepsy to submit a seizure action plan with the student’s school so that they can properly respond to any incidents. A delegated care aide shall perform the activities and tasks necessary to assist a student in accordance with the seizure action plan. In addition, all school employees will receive training in the basics of seizure recognition and first aid. School employees won’t be liable for civil or other damages as a result of conduct, other than willful or wanton misconduct, related to the care of a student with epilepsy.

Epilepsy is the 4th most common neurological problem and is most likely to onset during childhood. As of 2015, 1.2% of the US population has active epilepsy and an estimated 18,600 children under the age of 18 in Illinois have epilepsy.

Under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), public schools are not allowed to place children with disabilities, including epilepsy, in a special education classroom setting away from all other students, just because the student requires special services. HB 1475 goes a step further and also forbids a school district from denying a student access to the school or any school-related activity on the basis that the student has epilepsy.

HB 1475 was signed in to law on July 12th and is effective July 1, 2020.