Truancy / Tardy Ticket Campaign Timeline

When you're late to school...does it matter what color you are?

2001-2005 Bus organizing leads to high school organizing

During our '01-'05 Bus Riders Union (BRU) campaign for a freely accessible student bus pass, we recruit hundreds of high school students to the BRU and hear very disturbing stories over and over again that students are getting expensive tickets for being late to school or truant, not to mention very rough treatment by the police. In 2002 we convene a planning and study group to explore the issue and in 2005 conclude that the ticketing is a dramatic example of the larger issue we want to confront—the growing criminalization of Black and Latino youth.  The Community Rights Campaign (CRC) is born.

2006-2007 The first CRC Taking Action Clubs form at Cleveland HS and Westchester HS

We recruit a passionate team of organizers, students, teachers, and parents and launch the "Hey LAUSD! I'm pre-med, pre-job, not pre-prison!" campaign. Our first Taking Action Clubs begin meeting at Cleveland HS and Westchester HS, where students share their experiences of not only of tardy/truancy ticketing but also the range of zero-tolerance policies and pre-prison conditions in their schools. The campaign to end tardy/truancy ticketing under LA Municipal Code 45.04 "Daytime Curfew Citations" is live.

2006-2007 Interviewing 1,000 students, recruiting, growing

We conduct over 1,000 student surveys asking students about their experiences with zero tolerance policies, ticketing and their interactions with police.  It becomes very clear that truancy and tardiness ticketing is one of the key channels through which many high school youths are being introduced to the criminal justice system, and that there is a clear race and class character to how the tickets are being given.

The surveys are also a critical recruiting tool.  We begin to divide the CRC into three related areas of work: a) Decriminalize Truancy and Tardiness, b) Reduce Police Presence and Increase Civilian Oversight, and c) Stop the School to Prison Pipeline work, which brings us together with many other groups working on this issue.

2008 Requesting ticketing records from the LA Police Department (LAPD) and LA School Police Department (LASPD)

To substantiate our own investigation, we begin requesting police records data, an important tool to move many potential allies, including elected officials on LA City Council and LAUSD, to support a ban on the tickets.  LAPD and LASPD refuse our requests. It will take CRC organizers years of skillful chess to get the LASPD and LAPD  to surrender their demographic statistics on tardy and truancy ticketing. 

Spring 2009 Media Breakthrough: ColorLines and La Opinion

With our blog on truancy ticketing going viral, our media work leads to La Opinion, the largest Spanish-language daily in LA, covering our work in-depth and to Colorlines magazine featuring our work, “Young, Brown and Charged with Truancy.”

Summer 2009 Recruiting activist lawyers: Zoe Rawson, ACLU, Public Counsel

We start to recruit lawyer allies to consider legal action to stop the ticketing; provide legal assistance to students and families receiving tickets; receive legal assistance with our records requests at LASPD and LAPD.  Attorney Zoe Rawson joins the campaign and helps many students fight their tickets in court.  ACLU and Public Counsel also provide essential help in dealing with city officials.

Summer 2009 CRC trains students at Central HS in Mar Vista; CRC students collect 200+ police incident forms

Fall 2009 CRC wins first policy victory: withdrawal of Galatzan motion to expand tardy/truancy ticketing law

Fall 2009 Finding support inside LA City Council

Months of testifying at LA City Council meetings leads to CRC finding an ally in City Councilmember Cardenas, who is outspoken in criticizing the tardy/truancy law. We work with Cardenas to try to get the LAPD to release its ticketing statistics.

Fall 2009 Taking Action Club launches at Manual Arts HS

Fall 2009 CRC issues first policy paper

CRC presents policy analysis and recommendations in Problems of Los Angeles the Daytime Curfew Law: Why LAUSD Must Decriminalize Truancy and Tardiness and publishes testimonies of ticketed student in Voices From the Students: Testimonies from Students Receiving Daytime Curfew "Truancy Tickets" [download documents]

Winter 2009 CRC begins organizing at Roosevelt HS, resulting in meeting with LAPD

After years of hearing reports of aggressive policing at Roosevelt HS, CRC receives a surge in student reports of ticketing and aggressive policing.  The campus is being subjected to LAPD "tardy sweeps" every month.  CRC begins organizing intensively with teacher Jorge Lopez and a new Taking Action student club. We conduct petition drives and hold rallies.

Responding to our organizing, the Mayor's Partnership for LA Schools--which runs Roosevelt HS--agrees to begin meeting with us to consider ending the LAPD ticketing at Roosevelt. As we move toward an agreement to end ticketing at Roosevelt, the Partnership arranges a meeting with LAPD.

LASPD also delivers initial sets of its ticketing records.

2010 LAPD delivers reams of raw printouts

After numerous official requests for the data, and then working with the ACLU and Public Counsel to move those requests, LAPD delivers reams of raw, hardcopy data. But volunteer CR member and computer wiz, Julian Lamb, steps in to save the day. Over long hours and late nights he enters the data into a database and is able to do preliminary data crunching. The results are dramatic: a few dozen of LAUSD’s hundreds of high schools are getting the lion’s share of the tickets; many more affluent and more white schools are virtually ignored; and the problem is huge—tens of thousands of students were getting hit by large fines and mandatory court appearances.

Spring 2010 Advancing inside LA City Council

Working with Councilmember Cardenas, the CRC team meets with Councilmember Jan Perry to show her the statistics.  Perry is a  leading supporter of ticketing who once sponsored a city council resolution to extend the hours for ticketing "from bell to bell”—instead of from 8:30am to 1pm.  But to her credit, she is very concerned by the statistics and agrees to write a strong letter with Cardenas requesting that the LAPD do their own analysis of the raw data and present it in a public report. [see letter]

Spring 2010 National media breakthrough, including CNN

CNN interviews Manuel Criollo about extreme school policing when a young Latina student is arrested in her classroom for writing a note on her desk. 

In local media, CRC's truancy/tardy tickets campaign is covered in La Opinion, Hoy, LA Sentinel, The Wave, Daily News, Beverly Press. Lead organizer Damon Azali-Rojas appears on KPCC’s Air Talk with Larry Mantle.  TV coverage includes Channel 7 ABC, Channel 34 Univision, Channel 62 Noticias.

May 2010 Major victory: LASDP school police stop the ticketing

With our allies, the Youth Justice Coalition, and the Los Angeles Chapter of Dignity in Schools, CRC secures a verbal directive from the School Police Chief, Mike Bowman, to end enforcement of the tardy/truancy law "in & around" school grounds. Our direct monitoring has confirmed that LASPD has ended the vast majority of its truancy and tardy ticketing.

Summer 2010 Judge Nash, head of LA’s Juvenile Court, shares our concerns about ticketing

With tens of thousands of tickets clogging Juvenile Court, Judge Nash announced in early 2010 his desire to form a special taskforce of the LA County Education Coordinating Council (ECC) to explore ticketing alternatives.  As summer arrives, CRC convenes a meeting between Judge Nash, CRC, ECC, LAUSD Board, and LA City Council representatives to discuss how to move forward. As a result of this meeting, CRC and Public Counsel are asked to join the taskforce and to submit recommendations. [see letter]

Dec 2010 Truancy Task Force (LA County ECC) formally launches

Following through on the summer's discussions, Judge Nash officially launches as the Truancy Task Force (TTF) of the LA County Education Coordinating Counci (ECC), with CRC and Public Counsel as members.
The TTF seeks alternatives to the "ineffective" practice of ticketing and fines, and a more positive role for courts

Jan 2011 First meeting with new LASPD Chief arranged by LAUSD Board President 

On his second day as the newly appointed head of the LASPD, Chief Steven Zipperman accepts an invitation from School Board President Monica Garcia to meet with her, the CRC and other members of the Dignity In Schools LA Chapter to discuss ticketing and police reform.

2011 CRC trains students at Locke HS

April 2011 Major victory: in written directive from Chief, LAPD agrees to cut ticketing dramatically

The victory makes waves in national media--Mother Jones, Colorlines, Huffington Post--and receives local coverage in the LA Times, the Wave (Black newspaper), La Opinion (nation's largest Spanish-language daily).  See blog.

April 2011 With Councilmember Cardenas presiding, CRC organizes 2 hours of unprecedented community testimony at City Hall

At a special meeting of the Public Safety Committee presided over by Councilmember Cardenas, CRC turns out ticketed students, teachers, legal advocates and movement allies to testify for 2 hours.  This is the first time City Hall has been presented with testimony from the community on the impacts of the ticketing policy.  By the end, Councilmember Cardenas is so moved that he surprises everyone by sharing the story of his own son's unsettling encounter with the police.  Cardenas also accepts a report from LAPD Commander Villegas on truancy ticketing. See blog.

August 2011 CRC joins Dignity In Schools (LA) training for LASPD police officers

In early August, the Community Rights Campaign joined a training for LASPD officers arranged by Dignity In Schools (DSC-LA).  With fellow DSC-LA members Youth Justice Coalition (YJC) and CADRE, we conducted a training to educate LASPD officers about problems with police conduct. read blog.

August 2011 CRC organizes community forum, testimonies before Court-led Truancy Task Force (renamed Student Attendance Task Force) 

The TTF Community Forum was the first opportunity the public has had to
share their personal testimonies about the negative impact truancy
tickets has had on their lives and families, and to provide the Truancy
Task Force with alternative methods to addressing tardiness and truancy
that does not criminalize student behavior. read blog

Fall 2011 City Councilmembers Tony Cardenas and Bernard Parks introduce a major motion to roll back punitive truancy/tardy ticketing by amending the law itself (LAMC 45.04 "daytime curfew"). Passing this motion would potentially bring an important milestone to our campaign. 

Oct 2011 Major victory: Working with Dignity in Schools campaign we secured a written directive from Chief Zipperman.

LA School Police Department (LASPD) agrees to cut truancy/tardy ticketing dramatically, building upon the April LAPD directive in significant ways. (read the blog) Media coverage in LAT, Daily News, Colorlines and local media on motion

Jan 2012 Judge Nash, head of LA's juvenile court, issues new court guidelines to eliminate fines and unnecessary time in court for students receiving truancy/tardy tickets.  

The new guidelines  eliminate fines and unnecessary court
time for students who were late to school and for other minor offenses.
The court will also direct students who miss school to school- and
community-based resources that are shown to improve academic achievement
and get struggling students back on track. 
to read more

Jan 2012 LA School Board (LAUSD) President, Monica Garcia, leads board vote to support Cardenas-Parks city council motion to amend truancy ticketing law.  

To read more about it.

Feb 2012 Cardenas-Parks city council motion to amend passes jurisdictional Public Safety Committee, with support of Chair Mitch Englander. 

Feb 22, 2012 Amendment to Truancy Ticket laws passed by Los Angeles City Council

A standing room only crowd greeted the historic 14-0 vote with cheers
and applause as the Los Angeles City Council voted 14-0 to amend the
Daytime Curfew Law, responsibile for punitive truancy and tardy
ticketing of low-income students of color.  News is rolling in from the
LA Times, statewide California Public Radio, the Associated Press and
much more..