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Police needlessly harassing teens Karla Jensen | Sat, Aug 11 2012 12:00 PM

My teenage son was arrested for violating the daytime curfew law. It happened around 11:30 one morning when he and two of his classmates stopped at a 7-Eleven for some snacks.  The Chula Vista police officer who contacted them put them in her vehicle and drove them to their school.

My son had never had any previous contact with a police officer, so he was understandably confused and especially anxious when the officer told him that there was a $250 fine associated with this infraction.

What made this situation so unbelievable was that my son and his classmates were not truant at the time they were arrested, and although the police officer was aware of this, she still insisted that they had violated the city’s curfew law.  These boys were enrolled in one of Sweetwater Union High School District’s (SUHSD) alternative schools, also referred to as “atypical” schools, and their school’s hours were 12:15 p.m. to 6:00 p.m..   Throughout the state of California, alternative schools offer variations of full-day, partial-day and even at-home Independent Study programs for those students who, for a variety of reasons, may not thrive within typical public school environments.  Some alternative schools serve as the last resort for many students who would otherwise dropout, and thus serve a valuable role in ensuring that our district’s graduation rates don’t decline.

I was told by the CVPD that our city’s daytime curfew law (CV Muni Code #9.09.050) had an exemption that applied specifically to alternative students, making it a violation for them to be in public during the curfew except for travel directly to and from their school.  The SUHSD had an enrollment of approximately 3,000 students in alternative schools during the school year 2010-11.

Even when they are not considered truant by their schools, many of these students are being told by the police to return home and stay out of public during the curfew hours of 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. or risk a costly citation - nothing less than a de-facto house arrest!

This curfew is not applied equally to all students. When Bonita Vista High School has one of their regularly occurring minimum school days, students from the early session are released from school shortly after noon (well within the timeframe of the curfew) but the CVPD does not consider any of these students to be in violation.

Does our community have any reason to feel threatened by unsupervised alternative students who are in public during the morning curfew hours?  Apparently not, as the CVPD was unable to provide any data showing that these students presented a higher risk than traditionally-schooled students.

Exact same curfew and similar scenarios, yet only non-truant alternative students are found to be in violation of the curfew.  Innocent law-abiding students are paying a high price for persecution.

It does not serve the public good to require otherwise law-abiding alternative students to remain inside their homes when they are not required to be in a classroom.  Like their traditionally-schooled counterparts, these students deserve the liberty to pursue social activities out in public when their presence is not required in their schools.  A daytime curfew law that doesn’t respond to the realities of today’s educational environment is not going to achieve the desired results of reducing truancy because it will only serve to frustrate and alienate the increasing population of alternative students and their parents who are trying to do the right thing.

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RAR Says:

Tue, Mar 18 2014 11:57 AM

Chula Vista Police Dept. has some very good Officers. However the dept has gone downhill and claim they are under staffed. There is the spirit of a law & the letter. They make up laws as they go. and if you question them, they cuff you and tell you to take it up with the judge. They have lack of leader ship from the Mayor & Chief down. It's sad that the City has turned into the Border town Vanity fair article.
I once called CVPD and was asked if I rent or own. Really.

anniej Says:

Sun, Jul 07 2013 09:26 AM

Many good points have been raised regarding this issue. A couple additional ones to ponder. I am wondering how many day time crimes are committed by persons whose booty should have been seated at desk vs. being boosted Into an open window? How many students are choosing to skip class on a regular basis leaving themselves uneducated with no diploma and therefor unemployable? Where are the parents of the students who are consistently truant? Many unanswered questions indeed.

To the mental giant (can't remember his name intentionally) who referred to police officers as 'pigs' - YOU ARE A REAL FREAKIN' PIECE OF WORK. Too bad you didn't use your entire name and post your address, so WHEN, not if, you need police help your call could be responded to with 'call a nearby farm, I am sure they have lots of pigs they could send to assist you'. Piece of work you are, and it isn't a MASTERpiece.

Margie Varner Says:

Tue, Apr 23 2013 12:07 AM

Typical of this police force.Too much power and too little brains. They forget they work for us....not against us !!!

Karla Jensen Says:

Thu, Feb 28 2013 01:33 PM

For those of you who want to show your support for the proposed changes to the daytime curfew (ie; non-truant alt ed students will no longer be found in violation, among other changes), plan to attend the Chula Vista City Council meeting at 2:00 PM on March 5th, 2013. Also, if you feel the same way that I do, that daytime curfews are archaic, unnecessary, and overly punitive, this would also be a great time to voice these opinions to the council members.

Karla Jensen Says:

Tue, Feb 26 2013 04:23 PM

Hi 'JR', thanks for your comment. CV Muni Code #9.09.050 was enacted in Summer/Fall of 1998. During those City Council discussions the CVPD Police Chief assured the Council that great care would be taken in order that students who were on on a different 'track' of school operation would not be unfairly punished by the daytime curfew being proposed. Back then, some schools in SUHSD were observing a traditional school year (ie; September to June), and others were observing year-round school. Unfortunately, no one brought up the issue that hundreds of students were also observing non-traditional school days!

Mike Says:

Tue, Feb 05 2013 04:58 PM

I believe that truancy is an outdated concept. Children and more so their parents need to understand the importance of getting an education and go to school (traditional or alternative). I don't think the tax-funded police should waste our taxes watching out for someone that doesn't deserve to get an education if they don't want it. Someone has to dig the ditches and clean the bathrooms, right?

JR Says:

Tue, Jan 22 2013 05:50 PM

If they were doing this back around 2000 when I was independent study, I never got stopped. You wouldn't have thought CVPD'd have gotten worse on this aspect of civil rights in over a decade. When was CV Muni Code #9.09.050 enacted? Maybe they thought I was an adult from 8th grade onward. LOL

dont matter Says:

Sun, Jan 13 2013 07:19 AM

Did the PIGS still make you pay the FINE ?? (i bet u a $100 ... they did !!!)

This is THE stupidiest thing i have read in a while ..... teens are a complete "waste" of Oxygen anyway (especially idiots, like yours)

Get him back in A NORMAL high school environment ... + you will be problem free ... :)

dont matter Says:

Sun, Jan 13 2013 07:18 AM

Did the PIGS still make you pay the FINE ?? (i bet u a $100 ... they did !!!)

This is THE stupidiest thing i have read in a while ..... teens are a complete "waste" of Oxygen anyway (especially idiots, like yours)

Get him back in A NORMAL high school environment ... + you will be problem free ... :)

Karla Says:

Fri, Nov 02 2012 03:50 PM

BK, thanks for your interest in this issue. Please go to this link to see all of the Alternative School options within the SUHSD: http://nocurfews.wordpress.com/2012/08/23/who-are-suhsds-alternative-students/ Sure, Learning Center is one of them. I'm not sure what the point is you are trying to make by mentioning the pregnant or almost-enlisted teens that you feel dominate this group, but maybe next time you comment, you'd like to offer some viable statistics to back your claim?
I have shared my opinion regarding these programs with many people (see my story of one such encounter at: http://southbaynotes.wordpress.com/2012/09/14/changing-public-perception-and-ignorance-about-students/ ) and the most important issue is that alternative students are staying in school, because - if not for these options - they are more likely to drop out. Alternative schools serve a valuable purpose in helping all types of kids achieve their goal of a HS degree.
I think it is great that you were able to utilize the Learning Center in order to graduate early. That is certainly another wonderful benefit available to some students enrolled in alternative programs, but I doubt it is the typical reason that most students enroll in them. Another point to keep in mind is that a lot of kids don't get enrolled in LC until their senior year, and consequently many of them are 18 by the time they do. As an 18 yr-old, these teens are not subject to the daytime curfew, however, when you are wearing a backpack and walking around in public during the daytime curfew hours, you are going to attract the attention of cops who are looking for kids who may fall into this category. That is why I am anti-curfew! Youth curfews end up infringing on the civil rights of all children because cops cannot distinguish between those who are 17 or those those who are 18, much less between those who are enrolled in traditional school vs. alternative school.
As far as paying off Superintendent Brand...funny you should ask! Maybe I should have considered that option because the wheels of progress during this effort have been mind-numbingly slow. I made my case to the SUHSD school board that they should not even have provided alternative school options for our students if they were going to turn a blind eye every time a student got arrested for being in public during non-school hours.
For example, take SAILS (currently renamed as "The Portal") alternative school, which expects their students to complete their PE requirement during non-class hours. It was impossible for my son to do that without violating this daytime curfew law!
It took me several weeks - maybe months - to finally get Dr. Brand to understand the crux of the issue, and even after he contacted the police chief about it, the concept of excluding alternative students from their ordinance was a difficult one for the police to get their arms around.
Bottom line, Dr. Brand and the entire SUHSD community really should ask themselves why are they still supporting such an outdated and useless law that hasn't proven to make any positive impacts on the district's truancy rates? Have a look at the following study and see for yourself how the daytime curfew IS NOT WORKING for our students! Say NO! to daytime curfews!

BK Says:

Sat, Oct 20 2012 01:03 PM

Karla, how much did you have to pay brand for the consideration?

by "alternative school" do you mean LEARNING CENTER? I went to learning center of my senior year to graduate early. Practically everyone else in there was either a pregnant teen or 6 months away from enlisting...

Jesse Says:

Sun, Oct 07 2012 11:18 PM

Thanks for your support in a nazi police state. Your support for marshal law, total rule of rediculous law and unquestioning support for cops to do whatever they want without question is, I'm quite certain, maintaining piece and harmony. Glad I'm no longer living in that dump of a place south of the 54.

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