By Debbie Salter
Home School Parent Impacts City Council Decision
The League City Council voted 4-2 on April 27, 2010, to modify the Curfew for Minors ordinance to eliminate the daytime curfew in League City for one year to see if it has an impact on the juvenile daytime crime statistics. This change required a second reading which occurred on May 25, 2010, after the city-wide elections. The results of the second reading vote were 5-2 to modify the ordinance for one year.
My daughter and I, with three other home schooling mothers, addressed council on April 27 to voice our concerns about this ordinance and its implications for all families in League City whether they are public, private or homeschooled. League City has three, if not four, independent school districts within its city limits. Each school district’s schedule is different from the others. There are numerous private schools within League City as well as surrounding cities which also have differing schedules. I actually started this process a year ago prior to the city-wide elections in 2009 by talking with candidates and asking them what they thought about the curfew. I then helped two of them get elected. One council member was already on our side.
I spoke before the council on the day school started in 2009 and gave each member a copy of THSC’s talking points and a highlighted copy of the Texas Family code that had been modified by the Texas legislature in 2007.I then had face-to-face meetings with five of the council members, the mayor, and the police chief. The meeting with the police chief was interesting, to say the least. His response to me at the beginning of the meeting when I thanked him for meeting with me was “I was told I had to.”That comment set the tone of the meeting. Two of the council members chose not to respond to my requests for meetings. One of them I had actually helped get re-elected, so I was disappointed in that candidate. I also had trouble getting any families interested during that year, so I was pretty much on my own. I kept being told by council members that they couldn’t discuss this issue with other council members outside of chambers because of the Texas Open Meetings Act, but we all know they talk.
As it turned out, I required my thirteen-year-old daughter to speak for “school credit,” and three other mothers turned out to speak once I told them the outcome of my
meetings. Going into the April 27 meeting, I believed I had three votes but knew I needed
four. The one council member I hoped was on our side is the one who proposed seeing how not having the daytime curfew for a year would affect the juvenile crime statistics. The information I had received in an open records request showed that the juvenile crime rate in League City over the past three years the daytime curfew had been in place was 0.45%!The “wild card” council member had already done some research and had basically told council that the juvenile crime rate was a drop in the bucket and that there were some families who believed police were profiling. He had also spoken with a previous council member who homeschools and a county commissioner who also homeschools about their experiences. Both of these council member’s children had been stopped by League City police while out during daytime curfew hours. Neither family had been issued a citation, but had been warned not to do it again.
After the April 27 meeting, the three other mothers and I sent e-mails and letters to each of the four council members, thanking them for their vote and reminding them that this ordinance is only for truancy, not crime, since it is only in effect during school days/hours. We also sent e-mails with loads of information to the remaining council members. After the 2010 elections, we also sent the winning council member e-mails with information. The result of our work is that the daytime curfew portion of the Curfew for Minors ordinance has been removed for the next year with a second vote of 5-2!
I write all this to let THSC and others know that we can make a difference in the political arena when we get involved. It does take a lot of work and time, but now League City will be daytime curfew-free for a year. Of course, the work is not
done. We must now stay in touch with council and get statistics through open records and make sure they are reported accurately to council. The city also changed its way of government to a city manager-run government, so I don’t really know how that could impact this issue in a year.
I thank THSC for its Web site, which I used to create the talking points against the daytime curfew, and for Capitol Days, which helped me and my family see how we can make a difference and get involved. This past year has been an eye-opener for me and great training for my children!