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End the Criminalization of LA Students and Improve Student Attendance

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LA City Stop the Tardy Tickets, End the Criminalization of LA Students, Improve Student Attendance by Supporting Students and Families with Services, Amend LAMC 45.04 Now!

I am in strong support of Councilman Cardenas motion to amend the “daytime curfew” law (LAMC Section 45.04). Councilmember Cardenas motion to amend LAMC 45.04 will stop the unnecessary criminalization of students who are trying to get to school, ensure that families do not suffer undue financial hardships by eliminating city fines for LAMC 45.04, and help minimize court involvement by instead connecting students to resources to ensure academic success. I do not believe that imposing financial burdens on families with low-incomes and forcing them to pay the hefty fines of $250 or more per ticket is an efficient way of addressing truancy/tardiness. Young people and families need to be supported to

LAMC 45.05 harms the educational, human and civil rights of Los Angeles City students and their families, particularly students and communities of color. The negative consequences of LAMC 45.04 include:

1) Students are actually discouraged from attending school at all because they fear being detained and ticketed by the police just for arriving late.

2) The use of law enforcement and court involvement to address issues of school discipline and student attendance results in the unintended consequence of students and parents feeling criminalized and alienated rather than supported by school and are more likely to be pushed out of school altogether.

3) With over 60,000 citations distributed by LAPD and LASPD between the years of 2004-2011, it has disproportionately impacted students and families of color in low-income and primarily Latino and Black communities—Black students are twice as likely than the overall population of school age youth in the City of Los Angeles to be cited for a daytime curfew violation.

4) The law as currently written and/or applied presents an additional burden on non-traditional students who are often ticketed (i.e.: home schooled students, continuation students and student re-entering school from the juvenile justice system.

5) While the newly released LAPD and LAPSD directive on Day-Time Curfew enforcement is a positive step toward curtailing the current pattern of criminalizing students of color and low-income communities, we urge you to support this common sense solution to amend LAMC 45.05.

There are many reasons why young people may be late or absent from school, and research shows that attendance rates consistently improve with programs capable of assessing and addressing the specific reasons each child struggles to get to school. Yet there has been little coordination among the youth social service agencies in Los Angeles and an over-reliance on punitive approaches that are simply incapable of addressing the individual circumstances that lead to truancy or chronic absence. For long term solutions, I encourage you to work toward implementing the findings and recommendations from the multi-agency Student Attendance Task Force (SATF) of the Los Angeles Educational Coordinating Council. The recommendations, which were unanimously endorsed by the SATF’s members, are a step forward for Los Angeles County, because they emphasize connecting students to resources to address the causes of attendance issues – rather than punitive approaches proven ineffective as the primary response to truancy or poor attendance. They call for significant reforms to every county agency that interacts with youth who struggle with attendance, including courts, police, and schools.

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