Portland's Truancy Reduction Ordinance
What's the deal
Portland's Truancy Reduction Ordinance was created to help kids succeed in school. The ordinance says that if you are between the ages of 7 and 18, and have not completed the 12th grade, you cannot be on any street, highway, park, alley, or other public property during regular school hours. There are some exceptions, including if you are:
- Absent from school with the school's permission (this doesn't include students who have been suspended or expelled);
- Engaged in a lawful activity or in pursuit of employment that requires your presence somewhere other than the school during regular school hours. An example would be a doctor's appointment or if you were on your way to an approved job or internship. However, you must have been given permission by your parent, guardian, or other adult who has custody of you;
- Lawfully emancipated (this means you have gone to court to be recognized as an adult);
- Exempt from going to school under Oregon law. You would be in this category if you are being home schooled, attend private school or have obtained a GED.
What can the Police do?
The ordinance allows a police officer who has reasonable suspicion that a minor is truant to stop and talk to them.
For example, if you are walking down the street during school hours, an officer can:
- stop, detain and inquire about your identity;
- where you attend school;
- where and who you live with;
- and the reason you are not in school.
Okay, I'm caught, now what?
If the officer determines that you are in violation of the truancy ordinance, he or she will do one of the following:
- Give you a ride back to school;
- If you are 11 to 17 years old and expelled or suspended or in need of social services, give you a ride to New Avenues For Youth, a local youth social service agency;
- If you are 7 to 10 years of age and cannot be taken back to school, the officer will see that you are given a ride to a parent, guardian or other responsible adult.
Why do police want to hassle kids?
The truancy ordinance gives police one more tool to keep kids safe by being able to approach kids who may be in suspicious or dangerous circumstances. Police will not be pursuing kids on the street just to inquire if they are violating the truancy ordinance.
What if I'm home schooled and am out on a field trip or on my way to a class?
The ordinance allows for home schoolers to not be subjected to this ordinance. However, police advise that home schoolers carry identification and/or have a guardian or parent's phone number available.
What if my school has open campus or I have late start or early arrival?
Tell the officer what school you go to and all the information regarding your schedule. If the officer has questions, he or she can contact your school.
Will I be arrested and handcuffed?
Police will only detain and ask questions under this ordinance. They will not arrest you for truancy. However, if while talking to you, the officer discovers other criminal charges are applicable, you will be taken into custody and transported to a juvenile detention facility.
What to do if you're stopped
- When an officer approaches you on the street, keep your hands out of your pockets and where the officer can see them at all times.
- Let the officer talk with you and tell you why you were stopped.
- Answer the officer's questions truthfully; it only makes it worse if you get caught lying.
- Don't get defensive or start mouthing off—it will only escalate the situation.
(For questions regarding the Truancy Ordinance)
Multnomah Education Service District: 503-257-1771
(Home schooler information)
School Attendance Initiative: 503-988-3748
New Avenues for Youth: 503-823-0440
Reception and Referral Center
City Information: 503-823-4000
Police Emergency: 9-1-1
Police Information Line: 503-823-4636, TTY 503-823-4736
Office of Public Information: 503-823-0000