L.A. Schools to Keep Kids Out of Courts for Truancies

A disproportionate number of Black students are skipping school.

Posted: 08/23/2012 02:52 PM EDT

The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) voted this week to send students who chronically miss school to city-run youth centers rather than juvenile justice facilities. LAUSD says the change is an effort to resolve truancies.

With the new policy, after the third citation, students will be referred to one of 13 Youth WorkSource Centers in Los Angeles. Previously, students would receive numerous truancy tickets and eventually have to respond to a judge.

African-American students, who make up less than 10 percent of LAUSD, account for more than 16 percent of the truancy tickets issued, according to a report from Los Angeles County’s School Attendance Task Force.

The Daily Breeze reports:

"This is an extraordinarily positive step, helping children stay out of the juvenile justice system," said Laura Faer, education rights director for Public Counsel, a nonprofit group involved in the truancy-diversion effort.

"WorkSource Centers will have other resources linking families and children with job training, after-school support and other services," she said. "This can help stabilize families that are struggling."

Using statistics compiled by the Los Angeles Police Department, Public Counsel and other advocacy groups found that more than 47,000 tickets were issued to students for violating the daytime curfew law from 2004-09. A disproportionate number were issued to black and Latino students in South and East Los Angeles, with significant numbers in the northeast San Fernando Valley.

Read the full story here.

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