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Provo pulls truancy ordinance as home-schoolers protest

Published March 1, 2011 5:32 pm

Proposal • Ordinance would have let officers cite minors in the street during school hours.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Provo • The Municipal Council has backed away from a daytime curfew ordinance, opting instead to heed Mayor John R. Curtis' call for a task force.

Curtis, in a letter to Council Chairman Rick Healey Tuesday, asked the council to withdraw the ordinance for further consideration. The ordinance would have allowed police officers to cite school-age minors who were out on the street during school hours as a way to combat gang crime.

"It is clear that the approach recommended by the Gang Task Force, the Provo Police Department and city administration will not work as currently drafted in Provo," Curtis wrote.

He proposed creating a task force to get greater community comment on how to deal with truancy.

His letter came within hours of a protest by home-schoolers who said their children would be harassed and possibly arrested under the proposal. The protest was timed to coincide with the council's planned vote Tuesday on the ordinance.

Approximately 80 parents and their home-schooled children stood on Center Street outside City Center with signs denouncing the proposed curfew.

Gove Allen, one of the organizers, said the ordinance would subject home-schooled students, the children of tourists and youthful-looking Brigham Young University students to being stopped and questioned by police.

Allen said the ordinance also would have required shopkeepers to call police if minors entered their businesses during school hours to avoid being caught.

While he was happy that the council backed away from the ordinance, Allen was not optimistic about Curtis changing his mind.

"He's made it clear he likes it," Allen said.

Curtis said he wanted to be fair to the protesters and give them a chance to be heard on the ordinance, which the council has spent months drafting.

Greg Hudnall, Provo School District's director of student services, blamed misinformation for opposition to the ordinance.

"The ordinance was never intended to discriminate against home-schoolers," Hudnall said.

But that was not enough for Nancy Wilson, who was at the protest with her children. She said police would still have to stop a home-schooler and question them to determine if they were not skipping traditional school.

dmeyers@sltrib.com

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