Truancy Tickets for Teenagers
So not long ago, I told you that the Los Angeles Police Department has taken a very hard stance on traffic tickets in order to make some more money in this tough economy. Apparently, traffic tickets aren’t the only thing the LAPD is now taking a hard stance on.
PARENTS… Listen up… this affects YOU:
The LAPD is now ticketing students and even their parents if students are not in school during school hours. More than 47,000 truancy tickets were issued by the LAPD and school police between 2004 and 2009.
According to the LAPD, juveniles are restricted from being outdoors or in public places during certain hours of the day. The LAPD and lawmakers claim that these laws aim to increase school attendance, enhance a student’s opportunity to receive a quality education, become a more productive member of society, and avoid becoming involved in delinquent behaviors.”
Specifically, The Los Angeles Municipal Code (LAMC) 45.04 states:
It is unlawful for any minor under the age of 18, who is subject to compulsory education or to compulsory continuation education, alone or in concert with others, be present in or upon the public streets, highways, roads, alleys, parks, playgrounds, or other public grounds, public places, public buildings, places of amusement and eating places, vacant lots or any place open to the public during the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. of the same day on days when said minor’s school is in session…”
A first offense truancy ticket could end up costing up to $250, remain on the juvenile’s record, and even prevent him or her from getting a driver’s license.
What appears at first glance to be a well-meaning effort to protect our youth, has now been the topic of much controversy. Some advocate groups argue that these so-called “truancy sweeps” are targetting Hispanic and Black youth, as well as low-income families. Parents of students also complain that they as parents are not only unable to pay these pricey tickets, but are also unable to attend court with their kids because they cannot miss work.
After much debate, LAPD has kicked it down a notch. Just this week, The LAPD announced it will not give truancy tickets to tardy students if they are on their way to school. Truancy sweeps will no longer be conducted during the first hour of class, under the new policy. Additionally, officers will also ask students if they have an explanation for not being in class before they write a ticket. Lastly, city police will no longer write tickets on school grounds. Instead, school officials will deal with tardy students who are on campus.
It remains to be seen how these changes will affect school attendance and crime. In the meantime, parents must continue to keep an eye on their kids. In the event that their child does receieve a ticket for truancy, it’s important to retain an attorney, or at the very least to make sure they attend court with their child. Ignoring these tickets will result in even heftier fines and lead to criminal penalties, and even prevent a child from getting a driver’s license.