KTA

Kankakee Trinity Academy has declined to enforce the state mask mandate.

KANKAKEE — Kankakee Trinity Academy recently sifted through more status changes with the Illinois State Board of Education before landing back to “on probation” as of Nov. 19.

KTA lost its state recognition Aug. 30 for refusing to follow Gov. JB Pritzker’s mask mandate, which required that students, staff and visitors to all preK-12 schools wear masks indoors.

Pritzker issued the mandate via executive order as part of efforts to slow the spread of the delta variant of COVID-19.

Non-compliance carried the threat of complete loss of state funding and inability to participate in Illinois Elementary School Association and Illinois High School Association competitions.

Instead of complying in order to regain its status, KTA eschewed the mandate and sought accreditation through the Association of Christian Schools International, a process it is currently going through.

Principal Brad Prairie said ISBE changed KTA’s status multiple times recently, likely due to ongoing lawsuits from other schools and subsequent rule changes.

On Oct. 28, the school received a letter from ISBE stating that its status was returned to fully recognized.

On Nov. 5, the school was contacted by ISBE requesting a Zoom meeting. During that meeting, which was held Nov. 16, the state board reiterated its expectations that the school move toward compliance.

The most recent communication from ISBE was the Nov. 19 notification that the school was being placed on probation.

In total, eight Illinois schools received this notification, including seven private schools.

Prairie said the school has no plans to comply with the mandate, so most likely the school will be returning to un-recognized status after the 60-day probation window.

In the meantime, the school has applied for accreditation with ACSI and has a meeting scheduled with the organization in mid December. Prairie expects the school will be notified of its accreditation status with ACSI by Jan. 1.

KTA is a private pre-K through 12th-grade school with about 350 students enrolled. It previously had been a state-recognized school for about 40 years, having been granted the status shortly after it was established in 1981.

Reporter

Stephanie Markham joined the Daily Journal in February 2020 as the education reporter. She focuses on school boards as well as happenings and trends in local schools. She earned her B.A. in journalism from Eastern Illinois University.