AUGUSTA — The Maine Senate has sustained Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that sought to improve school attendance.

The Republican-led Senate voted 18-16 on Tuesday to uphold LePage’s rejection of Democratic Sen. Nate Libby’s bill. It would’ve made 5- and 6-year-olds enrolled in kindergarten and first grade subject to the same truancy laws as those 7 years and older. Libby said the inability for schools to deploy truancy officers to addresses chronic absences among younger children is a problem.

LePage said in his veto letter that the bill interferes with “the rights of parents to decide when their children are ready for school.”

But the bill would have applied only to children who are already enrolled and given parents a 45-day window to withdraw their kids from school.