Texas homeschoolers have been persistent.
Here are some articles on the recent rallies against daytime curfews in Dallas and
Bedford City that were held this past week and linked in THSC‘s latest PAC news.
Opponents of daytime curfew in Bedford plan rally today Star Telegram Mar. 23, 2009
By EVA-MARIE AYALA
“We’re against the government intrusion into parental rights to dictate the activities of our own kids and the punishment of a whole community of kids … in a misguided attempt to catch a couple of truants,” said Anne Gebhart, who is helping to organize the group Tarrant County Citizens Against the Daytime Curfew.
The Bedford council reviewed the ordinance this month after home-schooling families continued to voice concerns. The ordinance does not allow children under 17, with a few exceptions, to be in a public place in Bedford between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on school days.
But Gebhart said that the way the ordinance is written, police officers have discretion as to whether or not to issue a citation. It would be up to families to fight the issue in court, which could be more of a financial burden that the $500 fine issued with the citation.
Guilty until proven innocent. Councilwoman Nail has a concern that would catch taxpayers’ concerns about government accountability:
Councilwoman Lori Nail opposes the ordinance. She does not think it violates civil liberties but thinks it has the city doing what is the school district’s and parents’ responsibility. She also worries that it puts unnecessary fear into home-schoolers.
The ACLU organizer has another legitimate concern about law enforcement’s attentions:
Tracey Hayes, field organizer for ACLU of Texas, said such ordinances unnecessarily criminalize children. She said in extreme cases, police in some cities have waited at nearby high schools and cited students who were late to school for breaking curfew. She said it takes law enforcement’s attention away from calls about burglaries or vandalism.
Demonstrators rally against Bedford daytime curfew Star Telegram Mar. 23, 2009
By EVA-MARIE AYALA
Chloe Kozak, 13, said daytime curfews make her very nervous.
She and her sister are home-schooled, and often they go on field trips to museums or businesses.
“One police officer did question me to ask why I wasn’t in school once,” she said. “It just makes me wary against ever going out on field trips.”
The Kozak family was among about 50 people rallying Monday against such ordinances at Bedford City Hall. The family lives in Euless, which has a daytime curfew, and father Robert Kozak said he worries that other cities will adopt similar measures.
“The girls went to the King Tut exhibit in Dallas, but if that city adopts the curfew too, they won’t be able to do things there any more because they will constantly be under suspicion,” he said.
Families planned on speaking against Bedford’s ordinance at the City Council meeting last Monday. The curfew was approved in September and prohibits most children under age 17 from being in public places between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
ACLU also planned a Dallas rally. Again, it appears that “defenses to prosecution” mean those issued a citation will need to tell it to the judge, along with the ensuing legal representation fees, et al. Even if there were exemptions, freedom of movement by law abiding citizens is limited if one has a youthful appearance during school hours.
ACLU to stage rally today against Dallas’ daytime curfew ordinance proposal Dallas Morning News Mar 23, 2009
The groups are upset that Dallas wants to extend its nighttime juvenile
curfew into daytime hours.
“This is just one more way to criminalize youthful behavior and turn
kids going about the daily business of their lives to problem behavior
down the road. Ordinances like this transform law-abiding youth into
law-breakers,” ACLU of Texas Executive Director Terri Burke wrote in a
Residents, Dallas City Council members spar over daytime juvenile curfew ordinance Dallas Morning News Mar 25, 2009
Dallas resident Mark McCollom later argued that if the proposed ordinance is passed, “the consequences to [children] for one or two stupid mistakes could be devastating. The police have the tools today.”
District 14 council member Hunt, for her part, asked police if the majority of daytime burglaries are committed by males. Yes, police officials responded – the vast majority.
“Then, if our idea is let’s get people off the street who might commit burglaries or might commit criminal acts, I’ve got an idea, guys: Let’s put down a law that is a daytime and a nighttime curfew for men,” Hunt said. “I mean, guys, this is a slippery slope.”
Today, police may detain children suspected of skipping school, but typically return them to a Dallas school campus. No fine is involved and children do not face a court date.
Dallas law does include a nighttime curfew for juveniles, mandating that they’re off Dallas city streets between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 12:01 a.m. and 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday.
The Dallas daytime curfew vote is scheduled in May.
Regarding nighttime curfews, in 2004, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit decided that Curfews on minors violate [the] First Amendment [ Wisconsin Law Journal 28-JAN-04 Byline: David Ziemer]
Below are some excerpts from the Hodgkins v. Peterson Appeals Court ruling:
…the plaintiffs claim that the curfew regulation creates a “chill” that imposes on their First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court has often noted that a realistic threat of arrest is enough to chill First Amendment rights.
More from the Hodgkins vs. Peterson case ruling:
…the new curfew leaves minors on their way to or from protected First Amendment activity vulnerable
to arrest and thus creates a chill that unconstitutionally imposes on their First Amendment rights. Consequently, we reverse the decision of the district court.
Yesterday we learned that county commissioners in Bexar County (San
Antonio) will consider adding a daytime curfew to their nighttime
curfew. According to reports, students will be guilty if they are in
public between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.
More information from WOAI 3/25/09 County leaders consider adding daytime curfew for children
I’d be interested in seeing documentation of a judicial shout down of 1st Amendment rights regarding curfews. It appears, in peering around in a non-lawyer sort of way), that if curfews are contested through the court system; parental authority and 1st Amendment comes into play against curfews.
So the existence of curfew regs might be a resulting exhaustion of constituents fighting against a steady stream of new laws and micro-management from government authorities? (In my neck of the woods, Illinois legislators have already introduced almost 7,000 bills this session.)
update:a Dallas daytime curfew article and pics that were too irresistible, including the little girl looking at her sign.)
Outside City Hall Today, An Afterschool Civics Lesson from Daytime Curfew Opponents Dallas Observer Mar. 23 2009
By Patrick Michels
With protest signs, stuffed animals and matching T-shirts, about 40 people — half of them kids — gathered outside Dallas City Hall this afternoon to shout down the daytime curfew proposed as a way to keep kids off the street during school hours.
The ACLU and Citizens Against the Dallas Daytime Curfew, whose advocacy and T-shirts sales we’ve covered previously, held the rally to drum up opposition to the curfew before the Dallas City Council’s public hearing on it Wednesday morning.
Tracey Hayes with the ACLU of Texas said even without the curfew, Dallas police already have plenty of tools to enforce truancy laws. “The only thing this ordinance does is create a new way to give a child, a parent or a business owner a Class C misdemeanor,” she said.
I do have to ask: When is “Afterschool” for homeschoolers?
Posted by Susan Ryan