May 11, 2023
AUGUSTA – Rep. Tiffany Roberts, D-South Berwick, presented two pieces of legislation Tuesday at public hearings before the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee that would provide proactive and strategic approaches to addressing chronic absenteeism and ensuring that students who have experienced educational disruptions have stability and support.
The bills include recommendations from a study carried out by the Truancy, Dropout and Alternative Education Advisory Committee (TDAE) that was directed by legislation sponsored by Roberts in the 130th Legislature.
“Missing school negatively affects academic and socioemotional outcomes for all students,” said Roberts. “These bills include practical, sustainable and actionable steps toward ensuring Maine students aren’t falling behind in school.”
The first measure, LD 1769, would support youth experiencing frequent educational disruptions from situations such as foster care placement, long-term health treatment or economic relocation. The second measure, LD 1861, would support youth who are chronically absent. These measures would work together to ensure students have the support they need to be successful in school.
Students experiencing educational disruptions are often involved with multiple systems, yet individual departments, school districts and agencies too frequently work in isolation. To address this issue, LD 1769 would reestablish the Keeping Maine Children Connected Program Manager within the Department of Education to facilitate interagency communication and collaboration.
Chronic absenteeism and truancy have also been on the rise in Maine. Since 2019, Maine has seen a 25% increase in chronic absenteeism and a 117% increase in truancy. To address this issue, LD 1861 would require a school with a 15% or higher chronic absenteeism rate or a district with an absentee rate of 10% to establish an attendance review team. A team may consist of, but would not be limited to, school administrators, guidance counselors, school counselors, school social workers and teachers. Teams would work to develop individual recommendations and referrals for chronically absent students to improve their attendance.
The Education and Cultural Affairs Committee will hold work sessions on the bills in the coming days.
Roberts is serving her third term representing House District 149, which includes portions of North and South Berwick. She serves as House chair of the Innovation, Development, Economics Advancement and Business Committee.
Brian Lee [Roberts], c. 305-965-2744