Schools Fine Students $500 for Skipping Class

In a San Francisco suburb, too many students are skipping class. The Concord school system is out to trump truancy by fining students up to $500 if they miss a class unexcused.

“There are a lot of students that are not getting to school regularly,” Vice Mayor Ron Leone said. “We need to make sure they get to school.”

The new daytime curfew ordinance was approved on Tuesday, July 12, 2011. Public school students could be given a hefty fine during school hours if they are in a public place when they are supposed to be in school. Private school students and home school students would be exempt from the law.

Concord police Lt. David Hughes said that burglaries, fights and loitering have been linked to truancy.

“It’s the deterrence factor here where we see the importance,” Hughes said.

While the police force and school officials say the new law will reduce crime rates, students and parents of students see this policy as a violation of rights.

“It violates my child’s right to freedom of movement,” said Christian Lenci, a father of a home schooled child. “Serious juvenile lawbreakers wouldn’t be deterred from breaking another law.”

Lenci’s daughter, Kara, likes to read books outside, and she wonders how officers would identify home school children from public school children.

Celeste Paradise spoke against the new curfew at a town meeting. She said the new law will likely reprimand low-income families, and said the truancy policy leans toward fascism.

“If a certain person looks like they’re 17 or under, are they always going to have to show their papers?” she asked.

The curfew ordinance is strict, and it does limit freedom for children. However, I believe that truancy is a much larger issue. Though it is the parents’ responsibility to make sure their children are in school, they can only do so much while they are at work. If the policy works as intended (reduces crime and keeps children in school), I’m all for it.

Via San Jose Mercury News








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