April 12, 2007

Senate Bill 183: Bad Truancy Bills Introduced

Perry B. Clark

There were two bills in the Kentucky Legislature which would have permitted local law enforcement officials to take into custody school-age children, including homeschool children, who appeared in public during normal school hours.

Under House Bill 309 and Senate Bill 183, police could have been authorized to transport children to a facility operated by the board of education if they suspected the child should have been in school.

The purpose of this bill was to enable greater authority for local school boards to track down children who are truant from public school. However, bills like these could hinder lawful homeschool parents from allowing their children out in public during normal school hours for fear of their children being stopped, questioned, and possibly taken into custody for up to two hours.

H.B. 309 and S.B. 183 would have essentially created a statewide daytime curfew.

Thanks to your calls Senate Bill 183 failed to pass out of the Education Committee before the Legislature adjourned.

2/13/2007(Senate) Introduced
2/15/2007(Senate) Referred to Education Committee
3/27/2007(Senate) Legislature adjourned

HSLDA’s Position:

Action Requested:
No more action needed

House Bill 309 and Senate Bill 183 would violate a minor’s fundamental constitutional right to freedom of movement as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment on the public streets, highways and areas of the city without being subjected to prior governmental restraint.

H.B. 309 and S.B. 183 would violate the fundamental legal principle of the presumption of innocence. This presumption is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments to the United States Constitution.

H.B. 309 and S.B. 183 would result in violations of the minors’ Fourth Amendment rights to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures. A policeman should not stop and question anyone unless there are actual facts that make it reasonable to suspect that a crime has occurred. If a policeman stops and questions a person without such facts, it is a violation of the citizen's rights under the Fourth Amendment.

H.B. 309 and S.B. 183 would interfere with parents’ fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children, especially for parents with children in small private schools who often work outside the classroom.

H.B. 309 and S.B. 183 are attempts to beef up the truancy laws in Kentucky. There is no need for new laws addressing the issue of truancy. The present laws addressing minors simply need to be enforced.

H.B. 309 and S.B. 183 would result in selective enforcement. Since officers will not be stopping every juvenile during school hours to check their identification, they will be selective. This opens up the extremely dangerous potential for unequal treatment of minors based upon race, appearance, dress, etc. This type of ordinance will simply divert attention from real crime prevention programs and interfere with effective police work.

There is no evidence that this type of legislation would significantly reduce juvenile crime during school hours. Statistics demonstrate that there is very little juvenile crime during these hours even when there is no legislation like H.B. 309 and S.B. 183. Additionally, the serious juvenile law-breaker will not be deterred by these bills. However, hundreds, if not thousands of innocent minors will suffer the inconvenience of unwarranted stops, detentions and harassment, not to mention the added cost for taxpayers for the enforcement of these bills.

H.B. 309 and S.B. 183 would train young citizens to accept, as normal, constraints that are inconsistent with the freedom they should be educated to enjoy and use responsibly in their adult years.

H.B. 309 and S.B. 183 sends a message to self-disciplined and responsible young people that the community makes no distinction between them and irresponsible adults who abuse freedom in ways detrimental to the community.

H.B. 309 and S.B. 183 would will likely result in registration of privately educated students with police departments with the attendant issuance of identification cards and badges.

For more information on daytime curfews, please see our issue analysis: “Daytime Curfews: Guilty Until Proven Innocent.”.

 Other Resources

Bill Text

Bill History