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Maine lawmaker hopes parents will back bill giving them authority over holding students back

State Representative Justin Fecteau is a lawmaker but also a parent and is pushing his bill, LD 70.
Allowing parents to decide if their child should stay back in school this year due to COVID-19....
Allowing parents to decide if their child should stay back in school this year due to COVID-19. One Maine lawmaker is hoping his bill will make that change.(WKYT)
Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 7:03 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Allowing parents to decide if their child should stay back in school this year due to COVID-19.

One Maine lawmaker is hoping his bill will make that change.

His bill was only supported by one committee member in a work session today.

He wants Maine parents to join him in the fight.

”Without public outcry this bill is most likely doomed.”

State Representative Justin Fecteau is a lawmaker but also a parent and is pushing his bill, LD 70.

It would give parents sole authority to hold their kids back in school if they’ve been affected by COVID-19.

“When it really comes down to it, parents, really, really understand what’s going on with their child in the last 18 months, especially when it comes to school, and their social and emotional needs,” he says.

His bill was met with opposition from education officials in the latest work session with the education and cultural affairs committee.

They say parents are already part of the conversation.

”It’s very much a full encompassing group that makes the decision as to what are the best interventions for each of the individual children, and those conversations, always include parents,” says Holly Couturier, Maine Principals’ Association.

“Parents play a crucial role in this. But that it needs to be a collaborative effort, and that’s already in place, and we certainly encourage the schools to to involve those parents to take a look at the total education of the children and make those decisions as to what’s in their best interest,” says Mike Burnham, Maine Principals’ Association.

Fecteau says this isn’t enough.

“This work session was extremely frustrating for me, because we made all kinds of accommodations to businesses and schools, right now parents can drive home with liquor in their cup holder, but they’re not the functional authority on deciding if their child is ready for the next grade level. This is a smart bill that enhances a student’s education because parents are in the know this year,” he says.

Other education leaders say it’s been a year like no other and they’re committed to doing what’s best for students.

“We meet with principals, every week. And this is a conversation that has been ongoing all along. And the question hasn’t really ever been around retention of students, is it is, you know, what further supports can we put in place to help all of the students,” says Couturier.

“I’m all about partnering with people and working together. But I just, I just don’t think the legislature at this point in time is as equipped to really, really embrace freedom and put freedom and choice back with the people,” says Fecteau.

The committee members who were in the session today voted unanimously not to pass this bill any further.

The committee clerk says one member who was not there did vote to pass it.

The bill will be reconsidered at a later date.

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