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Cache County Council passes school truancy law

October 14th, 2009 Posted in Opinion

By Kara Kawakami

LOGAN — The Cache County Council approved the Truancy For Minors ordinance this week, with a provision that it be reviewed in two years to make sure that it is working. The ordinance along with the provision passed with only Councilman Jon White voting against it.

The Truancy For Minors ordinance states that a person between the ages of 6 and 18 who is not exempted must be attending public schools or private school during the school year.  A person who violates a provision of the ordinance is “guilty of a class C misdemeanor and a separate offense for each day or part of a day during which the violation is committed, continued, or permitted,” the ordinance says.  There may also be a fine, not to exceed $500.

“I’m against the ordinance.  I do not think it’s the job of the Cache County Sheriff.  I think it’s the school’s job,” said Councilman Jon White, saying that it was the “parent’s job and the school’s job.”

Councilman Gordon A. Zilles expressed concern that this ordinance was going to be just another law on the book and said that he would need to be convinced that there was a need for the ordinance and not already a comparable law.

Councilman Brian Chambers voiced approval of the ordinance saying that there are some parents who are wonderful people but do not have the clout with their children, and that this ordinance would assist them.  There were also high school administrators who were in favor of the ordinance, he said.  While truancy may not be a problem with younger children, the problem can escalate when the students have the mobility of a vehicle.  The ordinance was “favorable and a good move,” Chambers said.

Zilles said that he has spoken with parents that are concerned that an individual youth may be singled out by law enforcement, and to avoid that and other potential problems the council should consider a subclause that would make the ordinance be reviewed in a year or two years.

“I’m of the opinions that we need to review this, we need to have some dialogue in a year,” Zilles said.

Councilman H. Craig Peterson suggested that there be a “sunset provision” in the third section of the ordinance that would make the ordinance reviewed in two years from effective date.

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