Daytime curfew proposed for school-age children
Posted: Thursday, June 3, 2010 7:43 am
JACKSON (AP) — A proposed daytime curfew that would allow police in Jackson to question school-age children who are seen in public during class days has won preliminary approval.
The Jackson City Council approved the measure on first reading Tuesday, scheduling it for a second and final reading July 6.
City council member Frank Neudecker said after Tuesday’s vote a committee that included the Jackson-Madison County school superintendent proposed the plan as an effort to reduce juvenile crime and offered solid supporting data.
“When you look at removing rights of individuals, we have be very careful,” Neudecker said. “In this one, the reasons are pretty concrete (and) we know by criminal records how many juveniles we’ve collected during the daytime committing crimes.”
Neudecker told The Associated Press there is already a state statute in place in the Compulsory Education Act that requires children to go to school.
But Neudecker said the state law gives enforcement to the school systems and the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He doesn’t see state troopers as likely to run down truants. The proposed ordinance would give specific permission to local police to enforce truancy laws.
There would be exemptions, including children who are in front of their homes, teens in work programs, minors accompanied by their parents and students who are home schooled.
The ordinance would cover, however, students under 18 who have been suspended or expelled from school.
The restrictions would not apply when schools are not in session.
The Jackson Sun reported parents could be fined $50 on second offense for each day their children are not in school.
The study committee also found police are limited in their ability to question minors out in public during school hours because students weren’t considered truant unless they have three unexcused absences.
Earlier this year, the City Council was asked to approve a late-night curfew and declined. Some members questioned whether such a curfew would have any effect on crime. Others said they were concerned the proposal could be used to harass children and teens who were out late for legitimate purposes.
While Neudecker indicated the new proposal will likely pass, he said enforcing it is another matter and he expects fine collections to be difficult.
Information from: The Jackson Sun, http://www.jacksonsun.com
Published in The Messenger 6.2.10