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Tickets, fines for San Bernardino truants

January 5, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The San Bernardino City Unified School District is cracking down on late and truant high school students. The district is trying a novel approach: ticket citations that could send the kids to traffic court to face fines and community service.It used to be when you were late to school, you got a tardy slip. Too many tardy slips, you got detention.

But in San Bernardino, tardy students could get tickets from school police. Their fate then rests in the hands of a judge, who could issue them a $100 fine, and/or community service.

It's a tactic some parents say goes too far.

First off, it punishes the parents too.

"Most of the seniors do not work -- we have to pay, so I think it's ridiculous if they're late, especially sometimes it's late because of our fault," said Iris Gaytan, parent of a student.

"I mean, instead of coming to school, they're going to go somewhere else," said Albert Rios, another parent. "Why even bother going to school if you're going to get a ticket?"

But despite the fact some parents consider this program somewhat heavy-handed, the school district says there's no doubt that it's working.

"After a tardy sweep occurs first thing in the morning, by the end of the day fewer students are late to class, and it really does get their attention, and word scatters quickly throughout the student body that they're handing out citations," said Linda Bardere, spokesperson for the San Bernardino City Unified School District.

Bardere says the program is in effect at all district high schools.

Some parents and students are in favor of it.

"It's good enough to me, because you should be at school on time," said San Bernardino student Kevin Pierce.

"I'm all for it, absolutely, if that's what it takes to get some sense and to be on time. It's for their well-being," said parent David Delaria.

Whether you agree with it or not, students have two choices: The district says, "Either show up on time, or show me the money."