Benicia considering daytime teen curfew

September 17, 2008 5:48:13 PM PDT
A North Bay city is trying to convince kids not to skip school and may impose a curfew on minors which will allow police to fine teenagers who aren't where they're supposed to be.

The kids say it happens all the time and many kids are getting away with it.

"I know a lot of kids skip, but just because they're not in school doesn't mean they're doing something bad," says Zack Rogerson, high school junior.

Not every student in Benicia has seen the light of staying in school and that's why the City Council has given preliminary approval to a new ordinance that would impose a daytime curfew on school age kids during school hours.

First-time offenders would get a $50 ticket, much like a traffic citation. Repeat offenders could pay up to $200 dollars per infraction, penalties their parents could ultimately be forced to pay.

"It's an immediate intervention. Really in our opinion an easy way to give them a small citation, with a relatively small fine to get the parents involved immediately," says Andrew Bidou, Deputy Chief, Benecia Police.

Benicia High School's truancy rate is 58 percent, which means more than 1,000 of the school's 1,800 students have had at least three unexcused absences during the school year. Of those, about 400 are considered "habitually truant."

City Councilman Mike Ioakimedes voted for the ordinance, but not without hesitation.

"It's kind of a civil liberties issue. That was my initial reaction, like 'whoa, we have to tread carefully here,'" says City Councilman Mike Ioakimedes.

"I'm very much in favor of the ordinance. And I think it will probably help many parents who are struggling also with the aspect of getting their kids to school," says Patrick Holland, Benicia High School.

The City Council must still give the ordinance a second reading for final approval. If it passes, it would become law in January. LINKS
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