Who Needs Truancy Laws? We Have Daytime Curfews!

More and more Texas cities are jumping on the bandwagon of daytime curfews. In 1995, the Texas legislature enacted a law to allow cities and counties to adopt daytime curfews under the reasoning that students not in school were driving up crime rates. Homeschoolers have generally opposed these ordinances because home school students sometimes get caught up by over zealous police officers. (Read how daytime curfews impact home schoolers.)

We are now seeing school districts asking cities to adopt daytime curfews to help them enforce the compulsory attendance laws. HEB school district asked Hurst, Euless and Bedford to adopt such a curfew last fall, and Beford and Euless dutifully complied. In fact, Bedford did not even have a public hearing on the issue. Bedford, by the way, will have a hearing on a proposal to rescind the curfew next Tuesday, January 27, at 7PM at City Hall. Today the Star Telegram said the school district reported a decline in crimes from 22,805 last year at this time to 13,800 this year. Yet in December the police reported only one citation had been given. Those numbers smell to me, and I don’t mean in a nice way. The city council in Bedford is in full defense mode, trying to justify the ordinance as home schoolers push for it to be rescinded. The district is obviously trying to do its part to protect the ordinance. Home schoolers in Bedford should call their city councilmen to ask for the rescission of the measure and attend the meeting to make their voices heard.

Dallas has also joined the cry for a daytime curfew but wants one with a detention center and fines for parents of up to $500. In Waco last year a similar measure was defeated by a coalition of home school parents, minority citizens and the ACLU. Public opposition to the measure continued to build as these groups talked about the impact on home schoolers and minorities. The Houston Chronicle ran a story about the selective enforcement of its daytime curfew against minorities in 2007. The final straw in Waco was when opponents pointed out that the legislature enacted a law in 2007 to allow police to enforce the compulsory attendance statute by taking a truant back to his school and so there was really no reason to have such a curfew.

History has shown that these measures are a danger to the freedom of law-abiding citizens and can be defeated when the public is informed and people take action. Home schoolers would do well to watch for these efforts from their cities and counties and be ready to respond.