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Day time truancy ordinance police and school abuse of Power!
Hi all,
I've lived in Waukegan for 14 years and until last month I never realized the exact wording of the day time truancy law and to what lengths the school district and police will take to go to harass families with concern to this ordinance. My children are good kids they do not get into trouble they are honor students, my husband and I put education first above all else, we are both full time students ourselves. There is always an adult in our home when the children are there. Our door is open to our children's friends and the kids in the neighborhood, if they are having trouble need something to eat a shoulder to cry on a role model a mentor we are there. We have taken custody of one child because his father was having issues and was unable to properly care for the child, he has been with us for 3 years, we get no help from anyone for taking care of him and we have never asked. we have always volunteered in the schools, we try to be active within the community, but above all else try and be there for the kids. My children don't "hang out" around town i know where they are at at all times, most days you will find my house and yard filled with kids because we are the "hang out house" Parents know we are strict and caring and their kids will be safe here. We are not people that break the law or think our children should be allowed to "get away" with anything, we do not believe we are above the law.
To give you background my children asked for permission to walk back home from school that day,they hadn't made it to school grounds, my daughters shirt was ripped and she needed to change and they were both running late, granted only minutes but the school will still mark it unexcused, and as my children were just transferred to this campus and trying to get the hang of getting to all their classes on time, their schedules were switched several times so they were really having troubles and if you get 3 "swipes" in a week you end up with Saturday detention. Anyway my husband gave them permission to walk back home so my daughter could change her shirt, and so we could give both children ride to school and sign them in so they wouldn't be unexcused. Shortly after this first phone call we received a second phone call from my daughter telling us that her brother had just been taken into custody by the police and she assumed they were going to school but were unsure. As my daughter and son explained the story to us they were walking back home along the North shore path, because I prefer them to walk that route, I feel its a little safer than taking the main streets. Their one friend deiced to join them, I am unsure why, but they were causing no trouble just walking home. Apparently their were other students on the path at the same time, quite understandable because most kids walk this route to
get to school miguel, abbott, the high school etc. These other students were near my children but my children do not know them, The police officer and truancy officer stopped my children and asked them were they were going at this time they were a half block from home, they explained where they were going and that their parents were aware had given permission and were expecting them,at this point they were told to turn around and go back to school, which they did. shortly after they started walking they were stopped again, and questioned again, apparently the officers did not believe their story and believed all the students were together so since all of their stories didn't match they wanted "THE TRUTH" well the stories didn't match because they don know each other and weren't together, but since the officer didn't believe them they continued to question them. The truancy officer started to question my son, and my son told him he was not allowed to speak to him unless his parents were present, because we have had issues with these officers harassing my children and threatening them
in the past, walking into the middle school pulling them out of class and investigating some incident that had nothing to do with them, and
making threats of jail time and putting their parents in jail, all without discussing it with anyone, not the principal or the parents. The truancy officers and office was notified by the principal and ourselves on advisement from our lawyer that these officer were never to speak to my children unless a parent were present, they were told this several times over the years. Apparently the Waukegan police officer heard what my son told the truancy officer, and took it as a
sign of disrespect, asked my son "what the hell did you just say?" and my son explained again he was not allowed to speak to the truancy officer without his parents present and asked the officer to please call his parents, the officer then told my son to get into the squad
car and my son asked why? The officer asked him if he was trying to obstruct a police officer, and my son said no, the officer pulled my sons backpack grabbed him and forced him into the car, where he was taken to school. All the other children were left on the road said but because my son told them he was not allowed to speak to the truancy officer he was arrested, he told him that he was allowed to speak to police just not truancy without a parent. During the ride the 2 officers had a conversation with many explicitives about parents like myself and kids that think they can get away with everything etc. My husband after getting my daughters phone called rushed to the school and I followed on foot as I was not dressed to leave right that second. It took over an hour to find my son and be joined with him, during this time no one called to notify me that he was arrested, when I brought this to the school's and officers attention, I was told by the officer he did not have to contact me. He said "you're here now aren't you? and I explained yes because my daughter called me He said that was good
enough yet he had no idea she called and when I pointed that out he got more angry and said he did not have to tell me anything, I at that point asked the entire room of school officials to please take note that this officer told me several times that he was telling me this. after this conversation and speaking with other school officials we were taken into a room told we were not allowed to leave and the door was guarded I asked for my children to be brought into he room with me and they were and again we were told we could not leave the door shut and guarded again, my husband told them that we both take medication and had to get home to take it and were again told we could not leave. Finally the children were issued tickets to appear in court. We went directly to the police station to speak to the officers supervisor and he stated that he wasn't sure what was going on but my son had been arrested, he would investigate what happened, and we could go into court and explain it to the Judge. So at this point my children are not allowed to be in public, they have been decided guilty and must prove
their innocence, my son was arrested for basically being disrespectful in the officer's eyes for asserting himself to the truancy officer. We have pulled my daughter out of the high school and she is being home-schooled, my son is still attending because he is a good wrestler and if he doesn't attend the school he may not participate in wrestling and achieve his goal of making it to state competition.Taking a look at the daytime truancy law, we believe it was probably written expecting that those who enforce it would use common sense while carrying out their duties. The ordinance is very vague as written and because it is pretty much every child in waukegan, whether residents or visiting are open to being arrested and charged for things that the first amendment in the constitution covers as their rights. The law also only gives parents or school officials permission to be in public with their children, so if a relative or other responsible adult is with the child they are subject to arrest.These laws are taking my rights as a parent
away. Waukegan has taken a zero tolerance approach and they have told me they don't care the reason, the officers stated that are lied to all the time so they are just arresting everyone. This is crazy, we don't live in a 3rd world country we have the constitution to protect us, the police are supposed to serve and protect, not harass. The day time truancy ordinance does not take into account that schools have different start and end times, and different calendar days off, it also does not include home schooled children, as I was assured by police if my daughter is out (she is 16) during the school day she will be arrested, doesn't matter if she is doing something for home schooling or if her school day is over=she will be written a ticket and have to explain it to the judge. So we are clogging the court system that is already over burdened, we are assuming people guilty and they must prove their innocence, we are not taking into consideration different educational circumstances/options. My daughter will be dual enrolled at clc next semester so if she goes to walk to the downtown
campus she can be arrested. If she done with her schooling for the day and wants to go to work I have to escort her, If a child is home sick and someone other than his parent is with him in public they are breaking the law, if the child is out of school for personal reasons say a funeral not only are the unexcused for school if they are with someone other than there parent they are breaking the law. This law has done nothing to bring down the truancy rate at over 23%, but the police and school also keep those rates high because of their policies. We are now paying truancy officers and waukegan police for doing the same job,
the city claims there is no money in the budget but they are basically double taxing for these "services". Daytime truancy laws have been overturned time and time again as being unconstitutional, they have been stopped from even becoming a law for these same reasons. I am not saying that kids should be allowed to run wild or that parents shouldn't be ultimately responsible, but making pares take a day off of work to prove themselves and their child innocent is crazy! Then the law states any child over the age of ten is responsible for paying the ticket! What child can do that? The parent has to pay the ticket in reality. I don't think this ordinance has ever been challenged, but it is time now. I am an average citizen that follows the law, how many others is this happening to but are afraid to speak up because of their immigration status, because they don't know they can speak up, because they are scared of the police, etc. I have been screwed over by the police on major issues 4 times, where they have failed to serve and protect me, I have brought it to the attention of the chief of police but never
pursued it past that. This time there has to be something done, there is a sense of ultimate power between the police and the school district. I do not care how much work I have to put into this or who I have to make aware that this law has to go. I have contacted 2 Alderman with no response, I have gotten help from Rep. Rita Mayfield who has offered to hire an attorney on our behalf, but we are looking for someone on the local level to address this issue. This is just one small part of all that is wrong with Waukegan but I guess I have to start some where.
I hope you find resolution and justice. Good luck. Stay tough.

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