Positive Updates on Belleville Daytime Curfew
by Susan Ryan
News from Belleville describes officials backing down from a daytime curfew proposal. Police Chief Clay is looking for good solutions.
BELLEVILLE -- After outcry from home-schooling parents at a City Council meeting this week over a proposed daytime curfew, the police chief has proposed taking the plan off the table.
In a letter delivered to aldermen Wednesday and given to the News-Democrat by Ward 2 Alderwoman Melinda Hult, Police Chief William Clay told them he's proposing that they delete the 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daytime curfew from a draft ordinance, though the draft will still include nighttime curfew hours. He's also suggesting they remove a clause that would hold business owners accountable if they knowingly allow truant children to hang out at their businesses.
A crowd of "more than 100" concerned parents protested the possibility of daytime curfew in Belleville and reconsideration was determined after the city council meeting. From the Belleville News-Democrat:
[Alderwoman] Hult said she sees [Police Chief] Clay's revisions as an "excellent compromise," and that Clay really listened to everyone that night. She thought the daytime curfew left too much open to interpretation. It hadn't been tested in court, so it would leave the city exposed to lawsuits.
She said part of the problem for a lot of people was the phrase "daytime curfew," and the idea of another law on the books.
Tom Pitts, a Belleville home-schooling parent, was one who spoke at the meeting Monday. He hadn't seen Clay's proposed revision and said he would need to before deciding whether it was a good compromise. But on the face of it, he sees curfews and truancy laws as chipping away at individuals' freedoms.
The Illinois Homeschool PAC Chair weighed in with a letter to the editor.
Congratulations to the Belleville home educators who turned out to the recent City Council meeting to oppose the proposed daytime curfew ordinance.
Thank you also to those council members who decided to postpone a vote on this flawed measure. It is our sincere hope that they will permanently cease efforts to pass it.
In short, the proposed ordinance would infringe upon the rights and freedoms of homeschoolers.
Your recent story highlighted Belleville homeschooling mom Lynne Heath, who says that "riding bikes or going to the park are an incentive for her children to finish schoolwork on time, and she doesn't want them to be punished by police for doing those things. She sends her older children on errands, such as picking up milk from the grocery store or taking the lawnmower to get fixed."
Under the proposed ordinance, Lynne's children would be guilty until proven innocent. After all, how would local law enforcement know whether her children were homeschooled? Would this realization only come after a ride in the squad car to the police station?
The local politicians may attempt to placate homeschoolers by "exempting" them from the ordinance. But how, exactly, is that even possible? Would homeschoolers be required to obtain "ID cards" from the local government -- a clear attempt at forced registration of home educators?
Homeschoolers have earned the right to be left alone. We hope the Belleville City Council will drop this proposed ordinance, once and for all.
Curt Mercadante, Chairman
Illinois Homeschool PAC
It seems that when these propositions see the light of day along with public inspection, they are knocked down as unnecessary and invasive. This isn't just a homeschooling issue, it's a freedom issue. Businesses would have been fined if there was a possibility a truant was in their store, or assumedly outside their door.
Homeschoolers should keep eyes and ears open around Illinois. Senator Maloney never backed down from wanting homeschoolers registered. He's not the only legislator wanting that control, and there are many school authorities wanting the same across the state. Daytime curfews have been used as de facto registration in various areas around Illinois.
Regional Office of Education Superintendent, Keri Garrett attempted to push through a 6 page daytime curfew truancy ordinance in Salem that called for a police officer to do this when stopping a 'suspect' (teenager) on the street (possibly walking to the library or a job):
"When provided ”information that the minor is enrolled in a private school (home schooled) the officer will check with the parents/guardians and verify the information. This contact information will be forwarded to the Regional Office of Education #13 in Salem."
Regarding their perceived homeschool truancy problem, Senator Maloney and Superintendent Garrett like the same terminology of "no schooling". It's no coincidence. The Regional Offices of Education lobbyist testified for homeschool registration in February. Paying attention to this tangled web of government interventions is a problem all Illinois homeschoolers should note and prevent.