CLEARFIELD -- A new ordinance gives peace officers more power when dealing with youths who are cutting school.
Similar to efforts in neighboring cities, Clearfield has opted to add a new policy to the books. The city council has approved an ordinance establishing a daytime curfew that corresponds to school times.
This allows a peace officer to verify a minor's age and reason for being in a public place or other restricted area within city limits during normal school hours. The officer can now take the minor into custody and either transport or release the individual to the minor's school or approved school board designation.
"Most surrounding cities have this in place already," said City Manager Adam Lenhard. "For whatever reason, we have never had it on the books."
The ordinance was spurred by requests from the Clearfield City Police Department.
"This is geared toward the kids who skip school and do other things, like hang out at the skate park," Lenhard said. "Technically, that wasn't a violation of any city ordinance before, so the most the officer could do is say, 'Hey, you need to get back to school.'
"The kids would just say, 'Yeah, right,'" Lenhard said.
However, with the new ordinance, a tool is now in place for officers to use.
"It will help us get youths where they are supposed to be during school hours," Lenhard said.
He acknowledges there are reasons for youths to be out, such as being home-schooled or going to a doctor's appointment. But, he added, truancy is something many schools face, and adequate ways to deal with it are needed.
"We want to give the officers the ability to return a child to school who is being intentionally truant," he said.
The new ordinance specifically states it is unlawful for minors subject to "compulsory education" to loiter or remain in any public place or private property during normal school hours, which is respective to whatever school the child attends.
This ordinance also states it is unlawful for parents, guardians, teachers or others with legal care and custody to willingly or via a lack of control allow a youth to loiter during school hours.
Citations can be issued to those in violation. This carries a minimum fine of $50 for an initial violation to $100 for subsequent violations. Probation, community service and other punishments can also be imposed by the court.
The new ordinance is effective starting Jan. 1.