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Fines, court time eliminated for tardy, absent students

Fines and court time for tardy students will be eliminated in Los Angeles County, according to new guidelines released by the county's top juvenile court judge earlier this month.

Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Nash said in rules released last week that courts will now dismiss tickets in which students have evidence that they were en route or late to school. The guidelines encourage students to develop plans designed to get them back on track in school.

It follows policies implemented last year by the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles Unified School District police that sought to reduce the number of tickets written to students on their way to school.

Advocacy groups on Monday applauded the changes, which they said fixed a system that disproportionately targeted Latino and African American students.

"Too many students are caught in a vicious cycle -- facing hundreds of dollars in accumulated fines they can't afford, and having to miss even more school to go to court," Laura Faer, director of educational rights at Public Counsel, a legal advocacy group, said in a statement.

Nash's ruling, Faer said, is "not only visionary, it is sane, humane, and it's going to be more effective for student success in the long run. This is a breakthrough model for the other courts to follow."

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--Rick Rojas

 
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