May 19, 2023
After bickering and arguing with a fellow student, junior Angelica Ferrell* got into “a physical altercation” at an Upper Campus bathroom. She is among the 17 students ticketed this year for disorderly conduct.
“I went home and had been home for an hour,” Ferrell described. “A police officer showed up and gave me a ticket.”
Similarly, senior Carolina Mendez* had a police officer deliver a ticket to her home — only that the citation was for her mother. Mendez was truant due to not being “in the right place and state of mind.”
A 2019 Illinois truancy law prevents school districts from referring truant minors to another public entity “for that local public entity to issue the child a fine or fee as punishment … ” However, McHenry ordinance 6-5E-3 says a child older than 13 or their parent, but not both, can be fined.
“[My mother] was called to the school for a meeting since it wasn’t just me not showing up, but my brother as well,” Mendez said. “From what I recall, the [officer] from the school was the one to give my mom the ticket.”
Both tickets came with a fine. Ferrell paid an initial $250 after pleading liable. She also received a 10-day suspension and no offers of counseling.
“They just kind of suspended me,” she said, “and that was it.”
Ferrell believes the suspension would have been enough and that “it is what normally should happen.” Not everyone gets a ticket for disorderly conduct, she says.
“I was kind of mad,” Ferrell said. ” … I kind of knew it was going to happen, but it was still upsetting because I had to go through this whole process.”
The students noted that their parents were upset and disappointed. For a parent, a ticket can bring awareness of their child’s behavior. But also, parents are often paying the fine or missing work to attend a hearing date.
“My mom was disappointed in me,” Mendez said. “I do think it was justified the way she reacted. There was a fine on the ticket … I can’t say more about [that] since our situation is more than just a truancy ticket. It became a more delicate situation.”
Ferrell also described that, often, the ticket extends beyond the fine and into a “social issue” at school. People talk about the ticket. And if anything, that “makes [a ticketed student] angrier.”
“The girl who I got in the altercation with would bring it up to get under my skin,” she said. “When kids know about it, they like to talk about it. I was annoyed, but I couldn’t say anything because you already have this stigma. You have to keep your cool, and you just kind of deal with it.”
Ticketing proponents claim a ticket brings attention to behavior. Mendez said she became aware of her behavior. However, the fine did not resolve the root cause of her truancy. For her family, the ticket was “another challenge we have to go through.”
“In the end, I’m still not doing well in school,” Mendez said. “I can say it only went as far as for me to just show up. [It did] not motivate me to do my work. My attention span is very bad, and I can only concentrate so much in school.”
All in all, Ferrell concludes that ticketing at MCHS for misbehavior should not occur. She says there are better ways to handle situations.
“You already get suspended for it, which is what normally should happen,” she said, “but they could offer better things. Like, if you needed to talk to someone, like a counselor, or figure something out.”
Despite pleading liable and paying a $250 fine, Ferrell continues dealing with her ticket. She had another hearing date in mid-May, showing up as a witness.