December 21, 2014

Elyria
Mostly clear
26°F
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Police oppose curfew, viability of enforcement questioned

ELYRIA — The Police Department isn’t embracing it. Nor are school officials.

But nonetheless, a City Council committee tonight will take up the issue of whether the city should have a daytime curfew.

Police Chief Michael Medders said he cannot see how such a law would be beneficial to the city or his officers.

 “I don’t know what something like that would accomplish and it would be very hard to enforce,” Medders said. “Right now, Elyria gives some of their students lunch passes, so what would we be expected to do? Determine who’s skipping school and who’s out for lunch?”

The proposal is being taken up by the Council at the behest of Councilman Forrest L. Bullocks, D-2nd ward, who said he’s heard from several residents who were wondering why they see students wandering around during school hours. The Council’s Public Utilities, Safety and Environment Committee will hear the pros and cons — and that’s all it plans to do tonight, Councilman Kevin Brubaker, D-at large, said.

 “I think we will have to look into what kind of benefit this would bring to the city,” Brubaker said. “Our Police Department handles enough keeping the city safe and shouldn’t have to deal with a matter that is best left up to the schools.”

Elyria High School Principal Dianne Quinn said she cannot fathom how a daytime curfew would be enforced, given that the high school allows juniors and seniors to leave the building for lunch to ease crowding in the cafeteria, and students also travel to the Lorain County Joint Vocational School and Lorain County Community College for post-secondary education.

Then there are the students who leave to go to work, doctors appointments and for other legitimate reasons, she said.

 She said juniors and seniors who leave for lunch are required to wear a school ID with an early release tag, which states what period they can be out of the building.

“We do everything in our power so kids don’t skip school,” Quinn said. “It’s not a new term and we certainly didn’t invent it. We want kids in school, too. But we also want kids who have reasons to be out to do so.”

She said everything regarding early dismissal and a student’s privilege to leave school before the 2:40 p.m. dismissal is done with parental permission and signatures, she said.

“Very often, people mistake young people as our students, but just because a person looks like a high school student doesn’t mean they are skipping classes from here,” Quinn said. “Ninety-five percent of our kids are good kids who go where they are supposed to go.”

Police Lt. Andy Eichenlaub said those students found loitering in the city during the day and out of school without permission usually are returned to the schools to be dealt with. But if those same students are causing disturbances — fighting, vandalizing property or otherwise being delinquent — the issue becomes a police matter that is handled by officers, he said.

Quinn said if students are brought to the school by police, parents are called and discipline is handed out.

“And we do not put students out of school for skipping school,” she said. “They stay after school, from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m., if they bring their work to be made up, and longer if they don’t.”

Quinn will attend tonight’s meeting and be available to answer any questions from residents in regards to the school’s policy for early release.

“People must remember that if someone is skipping school, that’s the symptom of a bigger problem, not the problem,” she said. “If parents work with us, we can address attendance issues and correct behavior without the need for a daytime curfew.”

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com.