CONCORD -- If the City Council approves a daytime curfew Tuesday, cutting class in Concord could get expensive.

The proposed curfew would apply to students only during regular school hours. If they are in a public place when they are supposed to be in school, they could be fined as much as $500 after multiple infractions.

And if parents know their children are skipping class, they can be fined, too.

The curfew would not apply if a student is accompanied by parents, running an errand for a parent, traveling to work, participating in an organized activity or dealing with an emergency.

"I want to be able to get our young people into a place where they can be educated," said Councilman Tim Grayson. "I (also) want to eliminate the crime that is taking place during the day."

Grayson, who serves as chaplain with the Concord Police Department, suggested the daytime curfew in March, citing the number of youths he saw hanging out at Todos Santos Plaza during the day.

He said the proposed curfew law is exactly what he was looking for.

"It's dealing with crime and helping our businesses out downtown and all over the city," Grayson said.

Students would get a warning on their first infraction, and a warning would also be mailed home. Subsequent infractions in the same year would come with progressively higher fines: $100, $200 and $500. Parents who knowingly let their children skip school could be fined on the same fee schedule, according to a city report.


Advertisement

The city's police department already conducts truancy sweeps, in which officers fan out to look for students who should be in school. One-day sweeps in the spring each netted dozens of truant students, according to a city report.

But without a curfew ordinance, all police can do is drive the students back to school for discipline there.

The curfew would give police another tool, Grayson said.

Mayor Laura Hoffmeister thinks the curfew is a good idea. She thought the same thing a decade ago, when she supported a similar proposal that died in the face of public opposition.

"We had a lot of outcry from parents that didn't feel it was an appropriate step for the city to take," Hoffmeister said. "I think we have good documentation over (the intervening) 10 years that the programs that have been in place are not working."

Last time, part of the problem was that the school district did not support the proposal, Hoffmeister said.

Now, Mt. Diablo school district administrators and parent clubs have backed the proposed curfew, according to a city staff report.

Hoffmeister said she hopes that means that parents will, too.

"(Schools) don't have, apparently, enough funds to do more on their end to address truancy," Hoffmeister said. "Our community is the recipient of those problems."

Contact Paul Thissen at 925-943-8163. Follow him at Twitter.com/pthissen.

If You Go
WHAT: Concord City Council meeting.
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
WHERE: Council Chambers, Concord Civic Center, 1950 Parkside Drive.
INFORMATION: Go to www.ci.concord.ca.us. Click on "City Government," then "Agendas and Minutes."