If L.A. really wanted to get students to come to class on time, maybe they should have taken a page from Ohio’s playbook.Instead of incentivizing attendance, they’ve decided criminalizing tardiness is the way to go, the LA Times’ Angel Jennings reports.
So far, their grand plan is backfiring. L.A. high school students are protesting a city law that allows law enforcement to issue hefty fines against kids who are late to class.
These fines are no chump change, either, going as high as $250, plus up to $860 in costs for mandatory court fees, per Jennings.
Activists from the ACLU say the law does the exact opposite of what city councilmembers would like to believe.
Instead of encouraging school attendance, they allege it’s unfairly targeting low-income and minority students who would rather skip school altogether than burden their family with yet another bill to pay.
“They are criminalizing kids for coming to school late,” Laura Faer, education rights director for Public Counsel, a nonprofit public interest law firm, said. “It’s backward in every way.”
At a protest Wednesday, dozens of students donning caps and gowns and others decked out in makeshift jail jumpsuits gathered outside a meeting of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.
The jumpsuits weren’t an exaggeration. Per Jennings, one student said he was recently handcuffed by police when the city bus he takes to class dropped him off late one day.
L.A. isn’t the only city facing fire over its truancy fines. The commonwealth of Virginia slaps parents with court citations when their kids are late to class more than three times. Some fines are as high as $500, the Washington Post’s Emma Brown reports.