Written by MARK JAEGER
Wednesday, 21 May 2014 16:25
Village ordinance that mirrors City of Port rules adopted by trustees
Village of Saukville officials take certain pride in differentiating their community from neighboring Port Washington, but the Village Board found cause last week to be more like their neighbors.
Following the recommendation of the Public Safety Committee, trustees unanimously adopted an ordinance that mimics the law already on the books in Port.
Although the existing village code spells out the rules for curfews for minors, it made no reference to truancy.
Under the new law, truancy cases will be brought before the municipal court.
Saukville Police Chief Jeff Goetz said it makes sense that the two communities have identical truancy laws, since they share a joint school district.
“Because there is a common school district, there is some question if Port students can be stopped by us or if our kids can be stopped by officers from the Port department,” Goetz said.
Having identical laws eliminate that uncertainty.
The ordinance requires residents under the age of 18 to attend school. A first offense carries a $50 fine, and subsequent offenses carry fines of up to $100.
Fines can accumulate up to $500 in a school semester.
Parents or guardians may face similar fines if they “by act or omission knowingly encourage or contribute” to a minor’s truancy.
Students who are caught missing five or more days of school in a semester may be deemed habitually truant, which can lead to even more harsh punishments.
The driving privileges of habitual truants may be suspended for between 30 days and a year, with notifications to be forwarded to to the state Department of Transportation.
Counseling and community service may also be ordered for habitual truants.
But it was a different provision that drew resistance during the discussion of the ordinance by the Public Safety Committee.
If punitive measures fail to correct the truant behavior, the court may order in-home detention — mandating that the student remain home except for school and religious worship.
“The ordinance seems to be taking away the authority of a parent, by essentially giving a judge the authority to ground a kid,” committee member Thomas Kamenick said.
Goetz said such in-home detentions would only be ordered in extreme cases.
“I see this as more of a last resort, for parents who refuse to make sure their child goes to school and needs to get involved,” he said.
Goetz said the same rule is already used in Port Washington and Grafton.
Kamenick asked that the in-home detention language be removed from the ordinance, but found no support on the committee.
“It is ultimately the parents’ responsibility. I would leave the ordinance as recommended,” Trustee Dan Sauer said.
The ordinance was recommended intact to the Village Board, with only Kamenick opposed.
“I support the ordinance, just not the in-home detention,” he said following the vote.