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updated: 2/19/2013 10:58 AM

Cutting class in West Dundee could cost you $50

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By Lenore Adkins

West Dundee has approved an ordinance that cracks down on kids who cut class.

Under the new law, a student who refuses to go to class, or who is found to be elsewhere when he or she should be at school, could be subject to a $50 fine. Subsequent offenses would be $100.

Village President Larry Keller, a retired teacher, said it's all about educating children about another consequence for playing hooky.

"You'll get a little religion fairly quickly about going to school," Keller said.

Monday night, the village board voted unanimously to add another layer of enforcement at the request of Community Unit Community Unit District 300.

Police Chief Andrew Wieteska said West Dundee generates only three truancy calls a year, so the measure is mostly a way to partner with the Carpentersville-based school district and to stand with the other communities that have already approved it.

Carpentersville, Hampshire and Algonquin and now West Dundee have all complied. School officials have said the truancy rate at Dundee-Crown High School is down significantly from the previous year since Carpentersville approved the ordinance.

Wieteska said West Dundee's truancy numbers are so low because the village doesn't have a high school -- there's just one elementary and one middle school.

"I quite frankly don't see it being used very often, (but) it's a tool," Wieteska said of the new law. "Truancy is not a large problem within our community."

The law would apply only to absences that occur without parental permission.

For example, Trustee Tom Price told the chief that his son was absent from school on Friday, because the family vacation started that day.

Wieteska said that wouldn't count because the son had permission to miss school, but he joked that he'd take Price's money anyway. The new law also excuses absences due to emergencies, the observance of religious holidays and a death in the immediate family.

When the West Dundee Police Department gets those three calls a year from a parent, an officer goes out to the home and tells the child that it's in his or her best interest to go to school.

"We try to convince them the values of going to school," Wieteska said, noting that method has worked every time.

An appeals process is in place for anyone who thinks he or she shouldn't have received the ticket. The student can appeal it to the police chief. If student isn't happy with the chief's answer, he or she can take it to court.

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