Campaign to End Truancy / Tardy Ticketing

Police Check Students in Front of Their SchoolThe Community Rights Campaign is working to decriminalize truancy and tardiness. We demand an end to the LAPD and LA School Police Department practices of giving out $240 "truancy tickets" in Los Angeles schools to students who are late to school or truant. These tickets are one of the worst examples of zero tolerance policies that unfairly target students of color and contribute to "pre-prison" conditions in our schools.

Of the 47,000 tickets that have been issued by LAPD in the past 5 years:

  • 62% were given to Latino students
  • 20% were given to Black students
  • 7% were given to white students
  • 11% were given to other students

What law justifies these "truancy" tickets?

Los Angeles Municipal Code 45.04 ("LAMC") imposes a daytime curfew on youth under the age of 18 which gives the police power to detain and question youth for being off school grounds during school hours. Many Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) schools have incorporated truancy citations and fines as their school policy on absence and tardiness despite an existing education law that mandates the school to take several proactive steps prior to any court involvement that could result in monetary penalties.

There are no indicators that citations have a deterrent effect on truancy or juvenile crime.

Police "sweeps" on high school campuses

The majority of citations are given by LAPD during sweeps by a truancy task force. Sweeps often take place during morning hours around the radius of a school to pick up students who are on their way to school. Students can be picked up right outside or within blocks of the school campus immediately following the bell and be taken to a processing center to receive citations.

LAUSD already operates the largest school police department in the nation with Sheriffs, LAPD and private security forces patrolling various schools countywide. Truancy ticketing increases law enforcement and court involvement in school disciplinary measures.  

Students in handcuffs, bags searched, entered into gang database

In our field surveys, students have reported broad searches, the use of handcuffs and police use of field identification cards for potential entry into the gang database.

The use of daytime curfew citations ultimately undermines the goal of promoting student attendance. It contributes to a hostile school climate and can create contentious relationships between schools and their communities. The process creates an additional stress for the overwhelmingly low-income families in LAUSD students miss additional school days and parents miss work for court.

You can read more details and stories here.

Lissett and Chinyere

Hey, LAPD, LASPD! Stop the ticketing now!  We're pre-med, pre-job--not pre-prison!