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Students, teachers at L.A.'s Roosevelt High protest truancy ticketing policy [Updated]

October 20, 2010 |  2:40 pm

About 50 rain-soaked students and teachers rallied Wednesday outside Roosevelt High School in Boyle Heights to call for an end to the tardy and truancy ticketing policy.

Organizers said the system costs families hundreds of dollars and keeps students out of school.

Schools with large Latino populations, such as Roosevelt, have been unfairly targeted by police during early-morning sweeps near campuses, said Manuel Criollo of the Community Rights Campaign, which organized the rally.

He said students are issued tickets of about $250 for first-time offenders, $350 for second-time offenders and $900 for third-time offenders.

If offenders refuse or are unable to pay the fines, they could have their driver's licenses suspended. Many low-income students caught on their way to school are stuck with fines that are a burden to them and their families.

“This discourages students from going to school," Criollo said. "They often say when we’re running late for school, we just don’t go.”

The ticketing policy is part of a Los Angeles city ordinance called the “daytime curfew” law, Criollo said.

[Updated at 3:12 p.m.:The Los Angeles school police say the daytime curfew law is directed at minors who are out in public during school hours without legitimate reasons.

Students with legitimate reasons include those going to doctor’s appointments, those who work and those who are supervised by their parents.

“The whole process is to correct their behavior and to get them into school," said Sgt. Ken Kimbrough of the Los Angeles School Police Department. "It is not meant to punish them.”

He said the fines are set by the courts and not the officers.

“I know many first-time offenders who go to court and get away with warnings," Kimbrough said. "I am not surprised by a $900 fine. For some habitual truants, the judge has to send a strong message. But those are far and few.”]

Protesters say they are working with city and school officials to either repeal the law or reform it.

-- Ching-Ching Ni