Mills signs Libby law to improve attendance for youngest schoolkids

Posted: June 11, 2019 | Senator Libby

Legislation from Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, which would give Maine schools the tools they need to ensure all students, regardless of their age, receive the education they need and deserve, was signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills on Friday.

The law — LD 150, “An Act To Improve Attendance at Public Elementary Schools” — would allow school districts to extend enforcement of truancy rules to 5- and 6-year-old students enrolled in public school, while protecting the rights of parents to choose which school environment, and at what age, is appropriate for their children.

Truancy has harmful effects on a child’s education. Chronic tardiness or absenteeism affects graduation rates, proficiency and academic performance. Maine’s truancy law had not applied to students until they are 7 years old, leaving schools with no way to ensure that 5- and 6-year-olds who are enrolled in school are attending classes and building the solid scholastic foundation necessary for later educational success.

“This bill has taken six years to finally become law,” said Sen. Libby. “Now schools will have the tools and resources they need to help get the parents and guardians of our youngest learners the help they need to get these kids to school, preserving the foundational link between early childhood education and success later in life.”

LD 150 — as with all public laws in Maine passed without an “emergency clause” — will take effect 90 days following the end of the legislative session. The Legislature is scheduled to adjourn on June 19.