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Los Angeles approves limits on truancy fines for students

February 22, 2012 | 12:55 pm

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to limit fines for public school students who are late to school.

During the hour-long meeting, more than 30 people spoke, criticizing the rule as financially crippling and penalizing students who, despite being late, were still trying to attend school.

The previous plan enacted in 1995 in a push for zero tolerance mandated sizable fines as high as $250.

Under the new policy, students would have to be late three times before facing fines, which have been reduced to $20. The tickets can accumulate to as high as $155. Before, the maximum was more than $800.

Councilman Tony Cardenas said the intent is to support students trying to get to class and find punishments that aren't financial.

"This is not a permission slip to be late," Cardenas said. "There are still consequences."

After the vote was counted, proponents of the change -- including scores of student protesters -- erupted into applause.

"To actually see all the hard work we have done -- the petitioning, the protesting, the organizing -- has finally paid off," said Cinthia Gonzalez, a senior at Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights. "I feel great!"

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-- Angel Jennings at Los Angeles City Hall

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