Why the Truancy Ordinance is Probably Doomed

The Chronicle reports that city staff may drop the truancy ordinance.

The council voted unanimously to postpone any action on the proposal until Sept. 23, but now staff are considering dropping it completely.

Except that’s not their call. It’s council’s. This probably indicates there are not enough votes to pass the ordinance. Too bad. Smack it down right, with a vote on September 23.

And let’s call b.s. on this too:

“It was carefully drafted to address both public school and private school children … but we are mindful of the public response and want to ensure that any ordinance we proceed with is acceptable and well understood.”

At the last meeting, Dean Frieders had to be schooled in the definition of private schooling during public comments. And in the newspaper article, Sycamore attorney Jeffrey Lewis notes, “The first and most important [step] is notifying parents before a child is found culpable. The city ordinance leaves out that step.”

The above, along with my earlier observation that Frieders kept claiming people were “misunderstanding” the ordinance, tells us that there is nothing “carefully drafted” about this ordinance at all.

Why not?

Having watched our city government since 2005, I feel pretty comfortable saying that city administrators usually act on initiative for two main reasons:

  • To help their friends
  • To make more money
  • I don’t think the proposed truancy ordinance is any exception. I believe certain city people know and like certain school people and came up with this scheme on their behalf. Also, the thought of adding new fines to the revenue mix must hold a lot of appeal for a city with a house-of-cards budget.

    If the top dogs also have difficulty with maintaining roles and boundaries — bam! Before you know it, you have a city attorney leaning outside his area of expertise and being called out by those who know their stuff.

    The lack of a real public mission and a culture to keep such a mission on track is what breeds these fiascos. I pray DeKalb can attract the city manager it needs.