Daylight curfew coming to light

March 18, 2009 3:51:43 PM PDT
The Philadelphia City Council is considering a daylight curfew in an effort to battle truancy.On any given day, about 7,000 Philadelphia students are truant from school.

Under the curfew, parents would be issued a $25 fine if their children are caught violating the curfew, which would be from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on school days.

The fine could grow to $300 dollars if the truancy problem is unaddressed and the fine unpaid.

"I think it's a good idea because they need to be in school anyway," said Michelle Wilkerson, the parent of a 9th grader.

State law allows a student to miss three unexcused days of school before a truancy notice is sent home.

After a second notice, the parent could be called to family court for a truancy hearing where they could be directed to parent education class, fined or, in extreme cases, sent to jail.

The proposed daytime curfew is designed to address truancy before it becomes a chronic problem.

"Our idea in this is to try to get the kid who's not a bad kid, but just decides to skip school and we found often times that leads to other problems once they're out there," said city council member Bill Greenlee. "And often times the parent is a good parent but didn't realize the child did that."

Still some question the plans potential effectiveness and fairness in the case of the chronically truant student.

"Suppose the parent is struggling already to try to keep the kid in school, then you tack that $300 bill on their pocket. That's not going to help at all," said parent Andre Morgan.

The fine would only go up to $300 if the original $25 fine is not paid.

The full city council could vote on the daylight curfew next week.

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