Illinois Homeschoolers Don’t Need IDs from the Schools

Illinois' Boone County Board is contemplating a truancy ordinance [Ordinance pdf is linked on the right sidebar].  They like to call it a truancy ordinance, but it's more accurate to call it a daytime curfew.  

Last fall, Boone/Winnebago County Regional Office of Education Superintendent Richard Fairgrieves responded to some Illinois Homeschool Freedom Watch members who were concerned about his office's over-compliant demands of homeschoolers.  His assumption that private school students need public school ids to be out and about is unfortunate.  (Homeschool Buyers Co-Op offers free templates.)  Here's what the Superintendent said about daytime curfews and yes, he supports daytime curfews in his area.

"As the city of Rockford has an active daytime curfew in place, some parents who home school their youth, utilize this office to obtain an identification card, with the child’s picture, that assists their child’s utilization of the public library during what would be considered “school time”."

Seems like the county board, the taxpayers, and most definitely the homeschoolers should hold the public offices accountable.  From the Rockford Register Star:

In a 7-4 vote, at the prompting of Board member Kenny Freeman, the board sent the proposal back to committee level for further review. Board members Terri Glass, Anthony Dini, Bob Walberg and Cathy Ward objected to returning it to committee. Board member Pat Mattison was absent.

Dini clarified to the board that the county wasn’t “reaching” into school district issues, explaining the districts approached the county first. “Families should deal with truancy, not county boards,” board member Mike Schultz said.

Questions also loomed over the proposed citation and fines associated with the ordinance, which could be up to $100, not including court fees and parents missing a day of work to attend court with their child. Board members wanted clarification on how the ordinance would be enforced by the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, too.

I doubt that Superintendent Fairgrieves is issuing IDs to all private school students.  Instead, it appears they are targeting homeschoolers.   We've already had the Regional Offices of Education lobbyist testifying in February to the Senate Education panel that homeschoolers should register with the state.  No good reason why we should register, but maybe some consider it a public job keeper.  While people like me don't consider it "about the kids" or their education.

The schools pursuing daytime curfew passage within our municipalities and county boards should do the job they are supposed to be doing and stop looking for other governmental entities to do it for them.  The schools and Regional Offices employ truant officers and staff, along with names and addresses of public school students who are truant.  Someone should also remind the authorities writing up these ordinances the compulsory attendance age range ends at 17 years of age in Illinois. 18 years or younger is the high end age listed in this proposed ordinance. 

The Illinois Homeschool PAC released an alert about the Boone County issue.  We're not done with this legislative session yet and it's been a busy one.  Let's send a message out to our elected officials that we expect county board, town councils and boards to not "reach into school district issues".  If some – like Senator Maloney –  want to give heed to some Regional Superintendents who have it in for homeschoolers, then they'll hear a hard message (again) from us.  This is about money (up to $100 fines for truancy) and power (homeschoolers need to stay 'in their place').    Homeschooling in Illinois does not mean you're truant and there have been too many links to various Superintendents and other school officials who seem to ignore that fact.

The Rockford truancy ordinance/daytime curfew appears to be a bust since initiation in 2005.  

Officials agree truancy is a problem, but clash on how to find a solution 

March 2008: Frustrated by the schools’ slow response, Morrissey orders school police to ticket students for truancy who are present in school buildings but absent from class, despite objections from school officials. Hernandez’ office responds with a searing statement, telling Morrissey to concentrate on ridding the city of drugs, gangs and violence.

July 2008: Morrissey and Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen propose studying a new form of school district governance to the Rockforward! group of the Rockford Area Economic Development Council. It supports a study but does not fund it.

Now: School District officials say they are willing to continue collaboration, the district’s Education Committee is expected to study alleviating the truancy impasse, and a new contract for police services is back under negotiation.

Seems like they would look at the past success rate in the area.  Here's hoping that logic should now prevail. 


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