Reynoldsburg approves daytime curfew ordinance
The controversial ordinance establishing a daytime curfew for suspended and expelled students was passed by Reynoldsburg City Council in a 4-3 vote Oct. 11.
Once the ordinance takes effect, juveniles who are found in violation of the new code will be charged with an unruly child charge. Council also passed a companion ordinance that states parents or guardians could be charged with a third-degree misdemeanor, could be fined up to $500 and be sentenced to 60 days in jail if their children are found to be in violation of the ordinance.
Since June, Reynoldsburg City Council, its safety committee and the Reynoldsburg community have mulled through information pertaining to a daytime curfew.
Initially, the proposed legislation would have instituted a daytime curfew for any minor between the ages of 6 and 17 on the street between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. who did not have a valid excuse for being on the street during those hours.
The ordinance was included in other legislation back in July by the safety committee.
Shortly thereafter, however, two new ordinances were introduced by Councilman Chris Long. The first proposed the daytime curfew pertain only to suspended or expelled students. The companion ordinance held parents and guardians accountable for any violations.
Many of the original legislation’s supporters expressed concern over the newly proposed ordinances.
During the Oct. 11 council meeting, Councilwoman Leslie Kelly made a statement announcing that she would not be voting for those ordinances.
“I am a proponent of a daytime curfew, the original daytime curfew,” Kelly said. “I believe the original curfew is comprehensive and will be able to address the issues of truancy, suspended and expelled students for not only Reynoldsburg, but also outside districts.”
Kelly said she did not believe the current curfew would address key issues.
“I do not believe the current curfew that we will be voting on tonight will fully address these issues and instead has a very real danger of becoming an ordinance that allows council to say it did something but bears no real impact,” Kelly said.
She said she would like to see an ordinance that has “teeth and a clear plan for implementation.”
Reynoldsburg resident Jor-El Godsey, who was opposed to the original ordinance, voiced his support for the new ordinances.
Godsey said he felt the new ordinances essentially bridged the gap by targeting suspended or expelled students who would not be covered under truancy laws.
He added that part of his concern with the original ordinance was that it would have mandated officers to stop all minors, rather than allowing them to use their discretion.
Godsey continued on to say he was confident that the Reynoldsburg Police Department would walk that line the way it always has with professionalism and care for its citizens.
City Attorney Jed Hood, who was a co-author of the original curfew ordinance, expressed several concerns over the new legislation.
Hood said there has been no indication from the school district as to how it will work with the police department to implement this ordinance.
He also added that he believed that city council should have discussed guidelines as far as what to do when an officer comes upon a child in violation of the ordinance, such as specifying that the first time the child is returned to the parent or guardian, and the second or third time charges will be filed.
Hood said he felt the companion ordinance, which applies to parents and guardians, is redundant.
He said as the code exists right now, an adult who aids and abets in the violation of the curfew law, which the new ordinance will be a part of, can already be prosecuted.
Councilman Nathan Burd, who co-authored the new ordinances, explained that he felt the companion ordinance was necessary because the curfew ordinance was a new piece of city code.
“I think that we needed to be extra sure that that parental responsibility aspect was tied into the new ordinance,” he said.
Burd said there has been communication with the school district and that verification of a student’s status could be achieved with a simple phone call.
Burd added the district also agreed to notify the student and parent or guardian upon being suspended or expelled about the new code.
The new ordinances will take effect 30 days after the mayor signs the legislation, which will happen within the next 10 days.