Bill to change first-grade attendance passes

Posted: Wednesday, May 01, 2002

JUNEAU -- A bill that makes some 6-year-olds comply with the same compulsory attendance requirements as older students passed the House on Friday.

The bill also includes a measure to require high school students to take a semester of Alaska history to graduate. But that requirement may doom the measure when it reaches the Senate, one lawmaker said.

Alaska's compulsory attendance age is 7 years old currently, but parents can enroll their children in school at an earlier age.

Sen. Gene Therriault, R-North Pole, sponsored a bill that would require parents who enroll their children at age 6 to comply with mandatory attendance requirements of older children.

The bill emerged after an elementary school principal in his district complained about instances of parents who frequently removed their children from school. The Senate passed the bill on a 14-4 vote.

Therriault had said some parents were using schools as a form of day care for their children.

House lawmakers amended that bill on Friday to include a proposal requiring high schools to make Alaska history a graduation requirement. Such a proposal has stalled in the Senate this year after passing the House 36-0.

Rep. Mary Kapsner, D-Bethel, offered the amendment Friday to get the Alaska history bill moving again.

''This has met zero opposition in the House. I don't know why it doesn't reflect the same level of support in the Senate,'' Kapsner said.

The bill now goes back to the Senate, where it is expected to be met with opposition by Therriault and other Republican lawmakers.

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