Librarian Law? State Memo Forces Schools Like Brimley to Temporarily Close Library or Risk State Aid

Upper Peninsula school districts are reeling after the state sent them a memo that means some schools have to close their libraries.

The Department of Education memo sent to school districts last week, says school libraries operating without fully certified librarians could lose out on school aid.

The issue has already had an effect in Brimley.

They school says the memo came as a complete surprise and for the small rural area district, it might be a while before they can figure out what to do next.

On Monday, the Brimley Schools’ library sat quiet, more-so than normal.

Superintendent Brian Reattoir says it will be this way until they’re assured they aren’t in risk of losing state aid.

“We just said let’s just be proactive and close down what we have going on now, and make sure to have some further direction,” Reattoir, said.

For years paraprofessionals and volunteers helped check out books and read to kids, but the memo says if they aren’t ND certified, schools could face consequences.

“It would be tens-of-thousands of dollars that they could fine you, if they find that you are doing something wrong,” Reattoir, explained.

It’s way too much to risk for this small community now handcuffed by a 1970’s law.

“In my opinion this is a basic overreach, an unnecessary overreach of the state department,” 107th District State Representative Lee Chatfield, said.

The representative says he’s working right now to fix this and seeing if the state will relax the law, or if he has to propose a new one.

“This seems like a recent application of a law. Quite frankly we’ve had libraries functioning in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula for decades, where children have been able to learn and this recent application I think is a roadblock to education,” Rep. Chatfield, added.

We reached out to the state Department of Education for comment and have yet to hear back.

Brimley Schools says the library will be closed Tuesday and for the foreseeable future.

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