Senate votes to lighten truancy punishments in schools

May 18, 2017

A set of bills passed in the state Senate Thursday would ban schools from suspending or expelling students solely for poor attendance.

The legislation, which passed on 28-9 and 35-2 margins, requires schools to notify parents to attend a meeting in regard to a child's irregular attendance. The bills would also require school boards to include sufficient data about truancy, chronic absences and disciplinary absences in their annual expulsion reports.

Truancy, or chronic absenteeism, is a major problem for Michigan schools. The Johns Hopkins University School of Education reported last fall that Michigan's rate of truancy is 18%, 3% higher than the national average, and that many counties in the state fall at or above 30%.

Republican Sen. Judy Emmons of Sheridan is a sponsor of the set of bills. She says the ultimate goal of the legislation is to keep kids in school and more accurately track absence numbers.

The bills now move to the state House.