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Council adopts sweeping proposals to improve LA county's student attendance


L.A. County's Education Coordinating Council unanimously adopted sweeping recommendations today to try and combat student attendance and truancy problems in its 81 districts.

The group publicly released its 63-page report today that advocates for a more holistic community-based effort to encourage kids to attend class and moves away from criminalizing and punitive measures.

"This report is not the end all; this report is only the beginning," said the council's vice chair Michael Nash, who chairs the task force and is the presiding judge of the Juvenile Court.

The task force and its working groups plan to continue to meet on a monthly basis to work on creating a technical manual on improving student attendance that districts can follow. The group also hopes to work with the county's Metropolitan Transportation Authority to try and get free bus passes for students, especially those who are lower-income students.

"We want kids to be held accountable for what is done, but we want to set it up in a way that they will succeed," Nash said.

Manuel Criollo, an organizer for the Community Rights Campaign, called the report "an important breakthrough moment" for groups that have argued against the criminalization of truancy.

"Now we have a set of institutions across Los Angeles county supporting [what] parents and community groups have been pushing for the last five to six years," Criollo.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@LATams).