Monday, February 28, 2011

Provo proposal would criminalize daytime truancy...

February 28th, 2011 @ 6:28pm
By Jared Page

PROVO — Six-year-olds being handcuffed and hauled off in police cars.

Home-schooled children getting detained by law enforcement because they're outside playing in park on a weekday.

And BYU students having to produce a student ID in order to grab lunch off campus.

"Our goal is to be proactive on gangs. We don't have a serious gang problem, and we like that. We want to be way ahead of this thing." -John Curtis, Provo mayor

Realistic or not, these are some of the concerns expressed in recent weeks by parents and other Provo residents regarding a proposal to criminalize daytime truancy for school-age minors.

The Provo City Council is considering an ordinance that would authorize police to issue citations to children ages 6 to 17 found to be truant. The offense would be punishable as a class B misdemeanor.

Provo Mayor John Curtis said the proposal emerged from discussions of the Provo Gang Task Force Steering Committee as a crime-prevention tool. Provo police say there's a link between truancy and daytime crimes, particularly those involving gangs.

"Our goal is to be proactive on gangs," Curtis said. "We don't have a serious gang problem, and we like that. We want to be way ahead of this thing."

Provo School District spokesman Greg Hudnall said the number of truancy cases being referred from the district to juvenile court has nearly doubled over the past five years.

In 2004-05, the district referred 110 students to juvenile court — the final step in the state's method for dealing with habitual truancy. In 2009-10, the district referred 211.

"We just see those numbers rising," Hudnall said. "This is our approach to try and help deal with something that's very serious."

But some Provo residents, particularly those with school-age children, say they believe the proposed action goes too far. They worry that children who are doing nothing wrong will be made to feel like criminals simply for being in public on a school day.

"The biggest problem I have with this ordinance is it will give Provo city police officers the authority to detain, interrogate and potentially arrest anyone who appears to be under the age of 18." -Gove Allen, Provo parent

"It's truly frightening," said Gove Allen, a Provo resident and parent. "The biggest problem I have with this ordinance is it will give Provo city police officers the authority to detain, interrogate and potentially arrest anyone who appears to be under the age of 18 and is in a public place within the city of Provo."

Concerned Provo residents like Allen and his wife, Veronica, have been flooding Mayor Curtis and members of the City Council with e-mails, calling on them to find another way to deal with truancy problems.

The Allens have organized a "peaceful protest" for 1 p.m. Tuesday outside Provo City Hall, 351 W. Center. The City Council is scheduled to discuss the issue during its 2:30 p.m. work session and possibly vote during the 7 p.m. formal meeting.

"Yes, we have a truancy problem, but this is not the way to solve it," Veronica Allen said. "There are too many potential problems with it."

Among those, she said, are home-school and charter school students, many of whom have different schedules than traditional elementary, junior high and high schools in the Provo School District.

"We should not have our police interrogating minors without a parent being there, and that's what they'll be able to do," Allen said.

Gove Allen, who also works as a professor at BYU, said some incoming freshmen at the university are younger than 18 — and even more of them look like they are underage.

"BYU students who live, work and go to places of business in the city of Provo are now going to be in a situation where a police officer can come up to them and say, 'You're in a public place. You look like you're under 18. I need you to demonstrate to me that you're allowed to be here in this public place at this time,'" he said.

"This is Germany in 1939 — show me your papers," Gove Allen said.

Provo City Councilman Sterling Beck has been adamantly opposed to the ordinance since it was first discussed in November. Beck grew up in Monrovia, Calif., the city that he said "pioneered these kinds of ordinances."

'Peaceful protest' planned for Tuesday
A "peaceful protest" against the truancy ordinance is planed for Tuesday afternoon.
  • Time: 1 p.m.
  • Location: Outside Provo City Hall, 351 W. Center Street.
The City Council is scheduled to discuss the issue during its 2:30 p.m. work session and possibly vote during the 7 p.m. formal meeting.

"As a home-schooled student, I actually got to witness first-hand how these ordinances can have unintended consequences on people outside of the school district," he said.

Beck, who was home-schooled for a few years in the early 1990s, said his experiences weren't as frightening as those of others he heard about. But they were bad enough to convince him that such an ordinance is not right for Provo.

"You were genuinely afraid to go out of your house during the daytime hours because you knew that, at very least, you would be questioned by a police officer for being outside," Beck said.

Mayor Curtis said city leaders don't want to see that happen in Provo. The City Council is taking its time to act on the ordinance, he said, because it is very aware of concerns some residents have with the ordinance.

"There's been a lot of clamor (about the proposed ordinance)," Curtis said. "Some of the e-mails I get, they talk about hauling elementary school kids off in handcuffs. That's not realistic. Nobody's having those kinds of discussions that would allow anyone to haul anyone off in handcuffs, let alone elementary school kids."

City leaders are open to any and all suggestions about dealing with truancy, the mayor said.

"How do we reduce truancy? What are our options? That's what people need to be asking," Curtis said. "This is just a thoughtful dialogue about this problem. We're not just throwing a new ordinance at it."


Organizing protest times, please sign up...cut and paste the links...

Here is the sign-up for a shift during the day of March 1st to protest peacefully at the city council building between 1 and 7 pm.
We need more then 10 adults each hour because channel 4 will come film the protect if there are 10 people.
Please bring signs in opposition. Such as "Say No to Provo Day Curfew"

Here is the link for the ordinance:

Here is the link for sign-up to present points to the Council:

Thank you families for your willingness to come to Provo, to help your fellow citizens to stop this ordinance. Even if you can't sign up for a specific time, just come when you can.
It will be important to have more people there in the early evening through 7pm as the main study meeting begins at 4pm and we want people coming in and seeing our stand against.

Look in the Tribune, Deseret News, and Daily Herald newspapers tomorrow for interviews and Channel 4 at 10pm tonight.


Sutherland Institute's Press Release

Sutherland Institute Opposes Provo's Proposed Daytime Curfew Ordinance
February 28, 2011

News reports indicate the Provo City Council is scheduled on Tuesday, March 1, to consider a proposed ordinance establishing a daytime curfew.

February 28th 2011

By Bill Duncan, Director of the Center for Family and Society

News reports indicate the Provo City Council is scheduled on Tuesday, March 1, to consider a proposed ordinance establishing a daytime curfew.

Sutherland Institute appreciates the council's efforts to prevent crime but opposes such an ordinance because it would interfere with the normal lives of children in private schools, children educated at home, college students, out-of-town visitors and others. Youths in these groups shouldn't have to worry about being questioned by police for going about their normal activities, or about being placed in the custody of the Department of Child and Family Services.

Bill Duncan, director of Sutherland's Center for Family and Society, commented, "This proposed ordinance threatens at least two foundational principles of good public policy: It burdens parents' ability to direct the education of their children, and it reverses the limited government principle that the law should criminalize only conduct that directly threatens society."

The ordinance could also conflict with state laws regarding truancy and the requirements for home schooling in Utah.

As Sutherland has noted in other contexts, people in Utah should not have to show papers in their daily walks of life just to avoid government scrutiny. The longstanding legal principle that specific criminal behavior should be combated with targeted measures should not be replaced with a general presumption that all youths not in public school, regardless of their reasons, should be subject to police stops.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

You Can Help Stop Provo's Daytime Curfew Ordinance...


First let me say "thank you" for attending the meeting we had this evening at our home with Sterling Beck to discuss actions we can take to defeat the proposed truancy ordinance in Provo. The fact that you came tonight has given me renewed hope that we can defeat this bad proposal before it becomes a law. Here are a few points I learned from listening to Mr. Beck:

1. Expect the council to suggest that perhaps a single representative from those opposed should speak for all. Do not fall for this. Every person has a right to address the council both in the pre-meeting time at 7:00 (3 minutes each) and during any public hearing (longer, perhaps as long as 15 minutes). Do not give up your freedom to speak because a slick politician suggests it would be better for all if you remained silent. Get in line and say what you have to say even if someone else has already said something very similar. Remember, you do not need to be a resident of Provo to address the council.

2. Expect the council to suggest that individuals from the public could not possibly hope to understand the wording of the proposed ordinance as well as the politicians do. Be prepared to refer to the specific text of the proposed ordinance to substantiate your concerns. Here's a link to a copy of the proposed ordinance along with Gove's commentary:

3. Expect council members to try to assuage your concerns by saying that there has been a lot of misinformation floating around in the media and in email. Ignore such attempts to shake your confidence. State your concerns.

4. Remember that when you will speak you are addressing the council. They are the only ones you are talking to (in fact, your back will be to the audience when you speak). They will be on a raised dais, behind a table, and with their associates. You will be alone and behind a flimsy half-podium. The whole setting is calculated to make you feel inferior. Be respectful as you address the council, but remember that you are not a supplicant to the panel; they are your servants. They serve at the will of the people. Stay calm and focused.

5. The study meeting is when we have the strongest possibility to influence the vote of the council. The study meeting will probably start at 4:00 (for sure it will start by 5:00). It will be in the main council chamber. This is probably the most important meeting to attend. Please come to this meeting and be prepared to speak.

6. Remember to focus your comments as a concerned citizen. If you say you are a concerned homeschooler, it will be easier for the council to dismiss your comments.

7. The council chambers are located in the Provo City Complex at 351 West Center Street in Provo (same complex that houses the Police Station).

8. We will begin to gather at the Provo City Complex at 1:00 to hold signs and make our position known. Yes it will be a long day, but please come for as long as you can.

9. Bring signs and stuff to make signs. cardboard, markers, crayons, posterboard.

10. We need bodies. Get as many people to commit to come as possible. This is critical. Each of these people need not talk, but having bodies there to hold signs and be supportive will be very important. This is a bad law. How often do your neighbors get a chance to participate in a real political protest? The council is on the verge of passing this law. It is a bad law and will have all kinds of unintended consequences. Call in any personal favors you can to get bodies there.

11. We need kids. How often will such a law be up for protest that will have such a direct effect on children? This is a great opportunity for kids to get involved in the political process in a positive way. Think of the effect it will have on their confidence and lives when we prevail and prevent this from becoming a law.

12. Sign up for a time to appear at the protest and for a topic at the following google docs: Please sign-up by 8:00pm Monday.
No Daytime Curfew Arguments
City Council Meeting Appearance Sign-up
These are just guidelines to give us some idea of what to expect. The ideal situation is to appear as close to 1:00 as possible and plan to say through the late hours. Bring food, get comfortable, bring a book to read, math to work on. What a great image to have kids working on school work while the are at the protest.

13. Contact the media. We need to have as much media coverage as possible. Everyone should contact at least two of the following outlets to let them know of the planned protest.

The Daily Herald : Contact info to report news occurring
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Thanks for being involved. This is a short push, but let's push hard. This will be much easier to defeat than it will be to repeal.

Just doing a little research on the ordinance and what I could find.
(Big Thank You to Grant for researching the following info.)

The first part is very close to this resolution by the Alabama Board of Education:
Many of the sections are used in other Utah municipalities for truancy or curfews:
And Utah counties (this one has been around a while)
And around the US.
This says the Mayor's current administration proposed the ordinance:
Some information from Council women Sherrie Hall Everett
Utah State Code on Truancy prevention
Case law example on curfew
FYI: This Massachusetts law also shows that the language used in the Provo ordinance comes very close to that used there. Their curfew law has a provision that says: "(5) Adults can also violate the ordinance. "(2) A parent or guardian of a minor commits an offense if he knowingly permits, or by insufficient control allows, the minor to remain, either on foot or in a vehicle, in any public place or on the premises of any establishment within the city during youth protection curfew hours. (3) The owner, operator, or any employee of an establishment commits an offense if he knowingly allows a minor to remain upon the premises of the establishment during youth protection curfew hours."
Austin Texas Police offered to supply a homeschooler with an ID card to prevent problems with a very similar ordinance. Shows that other communities have had to deal with issues regarding the language of the ordinance.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Does Provo need a daytime curfew?

Dear Fellow Homeschoolers,

Like many of you, we are troubled by the proposed ordinance in Provo giving police authority to detain children who appear to be of school age who are not in school during school hours.

The Provo city council will consider this proposed ordinance in a study meeting this Tuesday, March 1st. My husband, children and I will attend that meeting as I'm sure others of the homeschool community are planning to do. We think it would be wise to coordinate and work together to prepare a coherent presentation that adequately presents the concerns of the homeschool community. Although expressing our concerns for the proposed ordinance is of paramount importance, we'd also like to suggest plausible, less draconian alternatives to deal with the truancy issue.

To this end, we are holding a meeting at our home in Provo this Sunday evening, February 27th at 6:30pm. We invite any homeschool family in Utah county to attend. We have also extended an invitation to councilman Sterling Beck to attend although we do not yet know if he will be available.

For those of you who live outside of Provo, consider that if Provo city passes an ordinance such as this, it could well lead to similar ordinances in your own municipalities. Here is the link to councilman Sterling Beck's blog with some other information:

Please let me know if you plan to attend by using the Google Voice call widget below. Children who maybe interested in participating in the discussion and possibly the council meeting are welcome to attend, after all, this will affect them most directly.

Feel free to call me or email with any question you have.



Google Voice Caller:

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Where does the time go?

What is happening? The days fly by and I find myself deeper and deeper in the pool of no blogging, no true confessions, no phony stories, no real life action. I'll tell you what is happening,
TIREDNESS. I try to get up early for personal scripture study, go through the day and then I get caught staying up to late with the husband and after so many days I'm tuckered out. O.k. so this is the cycle of my life no doubt. And you've heard enough.....

Learning time is going well. We are turning focus to spelling and writing. I'm trying to use the Excellence in Writing program with the kids, a time capsule and journals. The best thing I've done is make small books for the kids to write in. We have animal stories, history stories, personal stories, all sorts of stories being written now. Very short but that's better then complaints and still nothing written. True we/kids are behind but I see strong progress, especially when I leave them to write their personal books each is working on.

The Gove and I are doing well. Exercising, smaller meals more often. Sugar levels back into normal range and fat loss is occurring for both of us.

Come see our children make their famous bread at

Got to go battery almost about to die.