The Dallas City Council recently followed the city of Houston in adopting a daytime curfew. In spite of assurances that enforcement would not begin until the fall, we received a report from a home school mom whose eleven-year-old child was stopped by a Dallas police officer and asked why he was not in school. When the child explained that he was homeschooled and his school year was ended, the police officer instructed him to “go home.” This is just one example of how this curfew will impact home school families.
So the question arises: “How do we deal with a daytime curfew in our city or a city in which we spend time?” I suggest a short-term and long-term response. The long term response is that home schoolers must be involved in city government. You or someone in your group should monitor the city government and its activities so you can be ready to respond to possible actions that could impact local freedoms. You must also participate in local elections and seek to become a political force in the city, so officials will recognize and respond to home school concerns.
From a short term standpoint, check with your city to see if it has a daytime curfew ordinance. Most cities have their ordinances online. If your city (or a city in which you and your family spend time) has a daytime curfew, get a copy of it and become familiar with it. Develop a planned response and review it with your children. The ordinances all have “defenses” that are listed which would be used by a judge to confirm or dismiss a citation issued by a police officer.
For example, the Dallas curfew hours are between 9:00 AM and 2:30 PM and the ordinance lists the following defenses: (A) accompanied by the minor’s parent or guardian; (B) on an errand at the direction of the minor’s parent or guardian, without any detour or stop; (C) in a motor vehicle involved in interstate travel; (D) engaged in an employment activity, or going to or returning home from an employment activity, without any detour or stop; (E) involved in an emergency; (G) attending an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the city of Dallas, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor, or going to or returning home from, without any detour or stop, an official school, religious, or other recreational activity supervised by adults and sponsored by the city of Dallas, a civic organization, or another similar entity that takes responsibility for the minor …
If you familiarize yourself with the facts listed in the ordinance, you and your child will most likely be more familiar than is the police officer who might stop and question your child. If you are stopped with your children, explain that you homeschool and your children are with you; therefore you are not in violation of the curfew. If your teens are driving to a class or job, coach them on the defenses listed and prepare them to explain that they are homeschooled and to offer to call their parents to confirm that they are aware of where they are and what they are doing and, therefore, they should not be cited. Taking this approach will prepare you and your family to be ready to respond if confronted by a police officer. Finally, if you have a negative experience, document it and contact your city councilman and/or the mayor; bring the problem to their attention and ask them to respond.