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City council votes to change curfew laws

February 22, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A controversial law designed to cut down on truancy is now one step closer to being changed. The L.A. City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to request that the city attorney amend a curfew ordinance which allows police to ticket and fine students who are late to class.

"If I knew I was going to be 10 minutes late, that's it. A cop was going to issue me a ticket, so I'd rather stay home than actually go to school," said student Cinthia Gonzalez.

Previously,the law allowed officers to ticket any minor with a $250 ticket for being late for any reason. Students who were ticketed would also have to appear in court, which meant more time out of school.

"Officers issued more than 47,000 tickets from 2004 to 2009. And during that same period of time, the truancy rate increased from 5 percent to more than 28 percent," said Councilman Tony Cardenas.

But after Wednesday's vote, students who are late but on their way to school won't be fined until their third violation, and fines won't ever exceed $20.

The vote won't end truancy, but it does give students a bit more breathing room to students actually trying to make it to class.

Those students will then be sent to the school's office rather than a court room.

"Let's have them sit down with an adult that can ask the question, 'Why were you late, why are you missing school?' and then actually connect the student to some services that can address that problem," said David Sapp of ACLU.