360 Fireworks Party

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


by Michael Monks 
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Eastside activist Bennie Doggett
speaks in favor of the curfew
Following months of discussion, legal research and public input sessions, the Covington City Commission unanimously approved the daytime curfew for minors Tuesday night. Prior to the vote, Covington schools superintendent Lynda Jackson and the district's director of pupil personnel Ken Kippenbrock lauded the benefits of a curfew: less daytime crime, higher graduation rates and simply more students in the classroom where they belong. One disheartening statistic revealed Tuesday night arose during a comparison of Covington's curfew ordinance and the one in Dallas the city's is based on. Dallas reduced its unexcused absences by half from roughly 26,000 annually to 13,000. Covington currently deals with 13,000 annually on its own in a district much smaller than Dallas.
City Solicitor Frank Warnock explains
the legal aspects of the curfew
"We're seeing young kids up and down the streets with older boys doing all sorts of things," said Eastside activist Bennie Doggett. "What we don't want is failure for our kids." Mayor Chuck Scheper and the four commissioners all voted in favor of the ordinance that will allow police officers to return truant students to school, release the youth to their parents, and/or cite the student or parents. "Our goal is to protect this community, to make sure these kids get the education they need," Doggett said. "If we lose them now, what will their future be?"
School board member Mike
Fitzgerald voices support for the curfew
"It's sad when we reach the point where we have to pass laws to keep kids in school," said Richard Fowler, pastor at 9th Street Baptist Church. Parents that home-school their children had been singled out as the key opponents to the curfew. Dara McDowell of Monte Casino spoke strongly against the curfew at a public input session last month, but Tuesday night joined the chorus of supporters, saying that her concerns had been addressed. Jeff Sewell, who also home-schools his children and is the husband of Kenton County Commissioner Beth Sewell, also offered his support. "I want the community to know that it's not home-schoolers against the board of education," Sewell said. "There are many benefits (to the curfew) that will help this community."
Board of Education member Mike Fitzgerald stated the issue more succinctly. "Help a student today or incarcerate an adult tomorrow," Fitzgerald said.
Home-schooler Dara McDowell went from
opponent to proponent of the curfew
While the vote by the commission was unanimous, it was not without caveats or reservations. "One of the problems we have is that people don't believe that their kids will get a good education in the City of Covington," said Commissioner Steve Frank. "We have to make a special double effort to let home-schoolers know that they are welcome here." Frank offered hearsay statistics that 40% of students at Holy Cross and 60% of students at Prince of Peace Catholic schools are not Catholic.
Mayor Chuck Scheper listens as Commissioner
Steve Frank explains his vote
The list of supporters for the measure outside of City Hall include Kenton County Schools (which encompasses parts of Latonia and all of South Covington), Covington Police Chief Lee Russo, Kenton County Sheriff Chuck Korzenborn, Kenton County Attorney Garry Edmonson, Holy Cross principal Clay Eifert, and multiple neighborhood associations. "The whole point of this ordinance is to put students back in the classroom," said Bill Wells, President of the South Covington Community Action Association and the Covington Neighborhood Collaborative.

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