East Bay school district considers supporting daytime curfew

March 31, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
For young people an education is the key to the future, but they cannot learn if they are not in school. And if they are not in school, they are often in trouble. In Richmond, a crackdown may be coming.

Without a daytime curfew ordinance, police can only return truants back to school.

"We picked up I think it was about 425 young people just over a three-day period," says Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus.

But now Richmond police are trying to build a partnership with the school district to help pass a law that would include more interaction with parents.

"You know, I know everybody works, we all work, but we have to raise our kids the right way," says Pinole Middle School parent Mercedes Castro.

A curfew during school hours would include fines for parents who let their kids to skip school with a $50 fine for the first offense.

Prior to the meeting, school board members feared this could be a powder keg issue, but few community members showed up.

Truants would not be processed through criminal courts. Instead, they would likely be assessed and counseled at youth centers. The Ryse Center expects to see five to 10 students a day.

"We have young people that come in that are hungry. I mean, that's a big issue that we have been seeing. We have young people that are getting bullied at school. They don't feel safe," says Ryse co-director Kimberly Aceves.

Richmond is the only city in the West Contra Costa County School District without a daytime curfew law. Hercules was the first to have one.

"What it's done is given our officers the ability to investigate crimes or prevent crimes," Hercules Police Chief Fred Deltorchio.

Chief Magnus believes it will help reduce burglaries, drug use, even homicide, but he says partnership is the key.

"If this relationship is really going to work, we are going to have to look at having a little larger commitment within the school district to address truancy issues," says Magnus.

Budget cuts reduced truancy assistants from nine to two. The school district would not make a fiscal commitment, but it agreed to share information with police.

The City Council will vote on the daytime curfew on Tuesday, April 6.


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