Committee approves truancy hearing ordinance

The Rockford City Council approved an ordinance, which will establish a truancy hearing department, during its Aug. 20 meeting. Ald. Linda McNeely cast the sole “no” vote.

City of Rockford Education and Lifelong Learning Director Adam Smith said the city has been working with its partners while anticipating the passage.

Smith said the city and Rockford Public School District 205 are trying to determine how many times a student must be truant before he or she is turned in. He noted that fines will range from $25 to $100, plus community service or mandatory participation in YWCA education program.

District 205 has pledged $100,000 toward establishing truancy hearing department, according to Smith. He informed Rockford City Council Codes and Regulations Committee members during their Aug. 14 meeting. United Way is allocating more than $80,000 to pay a hearing officer, Smith said, and funding the YWCA education program. According to Smith, the city hopes to implement the truancy program after Labor Day.

Smith also noted the program will get $100,000 in state funds procured by state Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D-67), which is half of a $200,000 grant that the Boone/Winnebago Regional Office of Education received. Gilberti said Winnebago County Board Chairman Scott Christiansen stressed the county was on board.

Christiansen said county officials have kept the truancy issue on the radar. “We’ve been talking about (truancy) for some time,” he said.

Christiansen stressed the county’s support of a county-wide truancy ordinance, since students could congregate in places such as Cherryvale and Machesney Park malls. In fact, City Attorney John Gilberti said, according to Christiansen, the county is working on an ordinance nearly identical to Rockford’s.

From the Aug. 23-29, 2006, issue

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