Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Proposed Changes to Nebraska's School Attendance Law - Two Bills Introduced

Two bills dealing with Nebraska's school attendance law were introduced in the Unicameral today.

LB 933, by Senator Brad Ashford, seeks to prevent children with legitimate reasons for being absent from being referred to the county attorney. It does so by establishing a process under which the school district and county attorney meet to determine whether a student who has missed 20 days requires further attention. If so, the county attorney then meets with the parents and the school to determine what further action might be required.

This process is based on a program in Grand Island which has improved school attendance there.

LB 917, by Senator Abbie Cornett, seeks to exempt from referral to law enforcement two groups of students: those with documented illness, and children of military parents who fit under the provisions of the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children. It would not protect students with other legitimate reasons to be absent from school.

These bills represent a recognition among lawmakers that the law in its current state is sweeping up kids who are not "at-risk," and we are happy to see them. However, the Nebraska Family Forum feels that these bills do not sufficiently protect children and families from undue government oversight and interference. We will discuss our reasons for this position in a later article.

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