After overwhelming testimony from citizens against Concord’s proposed daytime curfew ordinance, the city council approved the law unanimously. When the ordinance goes into effect, fines up to $500 will be applied to minors found skipping school. Additionally, parents who knowingly allow their kids to skip school will also be charged fines up to $500.
The new law adds to current laws and anti-truancy efforts with fines to students found in public during school hours. The ordinance states that the fine will apply if the minor is found outside of school during their normal scheduled school hours, which vary based on school.
How will this law be enforced? Police discretion will be used when someone “suspected” of being under 18, not homeschooled or in private school or otherwise exempted, is seen in public without a guardian during hours that may or may not be the time when said person should be in school. According to the ordinance: “A police officer, upon reasonable cause based on articulable facts that an individual is in violation of the curfew regulations, shall detain that individual…”
What are the “articulable facts” that will be used? The officials responsible for crafting and approving this law don’t seem to know. “Looking young” was the primary “evidence” proposed by “expert” testimony. Carrying a backpack and walking in a direction that makes it appear you are leaving a school area could also be considered suspicious based on the ideas presented to council. First they came for your guns. Then they came for your Sudafed. Now look out for your messenger bags!
Citizen testimony ranged in scope, from children who were homeschooled and who would likely be subject to the harassment of officials under this ordinance, to those questioning why alternative measures had not been taken. One homeschooled girl asked why she would have to have her identification and other evidence of her not breaking the law with her at all times while reading a book outside in public. Ignoring the scope of the question, including the possibility the girl was talking about a public park, the Mayor explained that there was an exception to the law that allowed you to be in your front yard.
However, the city council did admit that they weren’t sure how successful the law would be beyond the guarantee of the officers who testified in favor. They assured the audience that they just needed to pass it to find out how well it works, (does this sound familiar?) and that it could be repealed later. It was also stated that if fines could not be collected, jail time could result. Sounds like good taxpayer funded expenditures to me!
Sorry, Concord. For those of us who get mistaken for high-schoolers day in and day out, we don’t feel the desire to be harassed by cops while getting our workday coffee. Pleasant hill is just down the road, and they need the tax revenue. Hopefully you make up for this type of loss with the fines you are trying to extract from the disproportionately poor communities.