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Students skipping school? Parents could face fines

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Posted at 5:34 PM, Sep 04, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-05 09:20:26-04

NORTH OGDEN, Utah -- The city of North Ogden is considering a daytime curfew after police say they're catching too many kids cutting class.

North Ogden City Police Department officials spent the summer working on a way to get kids off the streets and back into class. This week, they presented a proposal for a new law which would make skipping school a crime.

Mayor Brent Taylor spoke about the effort.

“So I think it’s just something we need to look at, a way to have some consequences for the student, a way to alert the parents, which is part of this ordinance, a way to get the parents involved as a way to rectify the problem,” he said.

Taylor said the proposal comes just in time, as truancy is a lingering problem.

“It is something that both our police department and school leaders have recognized is a problem,” he said. “Kids are leaving school without permission, going and getting food or going and hanging out somewhere in the city.”

Taylor has consulted a number of principals in the area, and he said the consensus is this isn’t just a high school issue.

“Actually, we’ve had discussions with high school, junior high, and elementary--and it's a problem at all three levels, so this is something we are doing in cooperation with all levels of school,” he said.

Velden Wardle, principal of Weber High School, spoke about the problem.

“It’s always an issue,” Wardle said. “It’s probably been an issue since school started, and so we address it and do what we can because students are better when they are here.”

Current state law allows for an officer to take the child back to school and call their parent, but has no punishment or judicial consequence. After an initial warning, the new ordinance could result in a $50 fine for parents. The law would establish a daytime curfew from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on any day where school is in session. Those who are 17 years old or younger would be subject to the ordinance.

The ordinance makes exceptions for emancipated minors, those who are home schooled, minors accompanied by a parent or guardian or in situations where the minor is running an errand at a parent’s direction, is acting in response to an emergency, is going to or from a medical or dental appointment or various other such instances.

“Pretty harsh, but, yeah: I'm guessing it won’t take too many of those before parents are having their kids stay in school,” said Weber High School parent Chris Helmey.

The next city council meeting is the September 16, and council members are planning to discuss the ordinance then.