January 14, 2008

Daytime Curfews Continue to Threaten Freedom

Once again, homeschoolers across the country are facing the threat of daytime curfews. Within the last year, city councils in California, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, Ohio, and Texas have considered such curfews.

Daytime curfews are unnecessary for good order. They are often touted as a way to reduce truancy and juvenile crime, but there is little or no evidence to support this. The impact on law-abiding youth, however, is undisputed: restricting a young person’s freedom to move about during the day creates an atmosphere of fear reminiscent of totalitarian states, and often leads to harassment of homeschoolers. Daytime curfews can be especially onerous for homeschooled students, who tend to have the most flexible daytime schedules.

This problem is more than hypothetical. Even when exceptions for homeschoolers are written into the curfew law, police officers frequently presume that any school-age child is truant, regardless of whether they are homeschooled or not.

  • Kyle* was a California homeschooler who was out during public school hours. He was picked up by the police and transported to the local truancy center. If convicted, he would have faced a fine of $195.

  • Amy,* who is homeschooled, lives just outside of the Los Angeles city limits. One morning in 2005, before departing to attend her uncle’s funeral, she took a short walk. But as Amy was walking, she was accosted by a police officer who ticketed her for being on the street in violation of Los Angeles’ Daytime Loitering Ordinance.

  • Jacob,* a 12-year-old homeschooler in California, went to the store one block from his home on February 2, 2006, to buy paper for his homeschool program. A police officer picked him up, brought him home, and cited him for violation of the daytime curfew.

  • On September 9, 1999, Adam,* age 13, was stopped, detained, and issued a citation by a Los Angeles police officer. He had been walking on the sidewalk with no apparent unlawful purpose. On the day Adam received the citation, his home school was not in session. Fairhaven Christian Academy did not open for the school year until four days later.
  • * Names changed to protect privacy.

Home School Legal Defense Association does not believe that homeschooled children should be considered guilty until proven innocent. If you have information about a town, borough, or other government body proposing a daytime curfew, please contact HSLDA’s legal department immediately at (540) 338-5600.