Monday night, the Bishop City Council approved a truancy ordinance that will make it illegal for minors to be on the streets of Bishop during hours when school is in session.
Looking to curb small time crimes like vandalism and petty theft, along with delinquent behavior, Police Chief Kathleen Sheehan said that when kids are not in school the whole community suffers for it. When this law goes into effect before the start of the new school year, anyone under the age of 18 can be cited for being outside of school with no legitimate purpose.
The law only applies to public areas within the City of Bishop, though it was said that a similar ordinance for Inyo County is under consideration as well. There are exceptions for illness, school related activities, and others.
The first offense would be a $25 fine or 12 hours of community service. The second offense would run $50 and 24 hours of service. The third citation – 36 hours and a $75 fine. Including court fees. The third offense could run $298.
Inyo School Superintendent Terry McAteer cited the success of this type of truancy ordinance in Nevada County where he worked previously. McAteer explained that without the ordinance, police can not enforce loitering on the streets during school hours.
Weve put teeth in the process,” McAteer said, adding, kids understand consequences.
Judge Dean Stout, who supports this new ordinance, explained that there really is no real truancy crisis that needs to be solved, but that a truancy ordinance is a missing piece in the arsenal to enforce mandatory education.
The council approved the ordinance 5-0. There will be a second reading of the law at the next council meeting in two weeks.