So Cal education, LAUSD, the Cal States and the UCs

Georgia team meets with LA officials to reform school discipline

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LA officials are meeting with a team from an Atlanta suburb that has pioneered methods to reduce on-campus arrests, in hopes of creating a similar, more holistic system to deal with misbehaving students. (Sept. 13, 2012)

Los Angeles school, law enforcement and county officials are meeting Thursday with a team from an Atlanta suburb that pioneered methods to reduce on-campus arrests. They hope to create a similar, more holistic system to deal with misbehaving students.

Rather than focusing on punishment, these methods focus on looking at bad behavior as a symptom in kids, who are still mentally and emotionally developing, and trying to deal with the root causes of their actions. 

The technical assistance team is headed by Judge Steven Teske of Clayton County, Georgia, who has worked on changing the response to low-level juvenile offenses since 2003. He has helped officials in counties across the country drop their arrest rates. In his own county, Teske's efforts dropped the fighting offenses in schools by 87 percent between 2002 and 2010; graduation rates rose by 20 percent.

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All LA County Informal Juvenile and Traffic Courts to close June 15

Jordon Cooper/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Los Angeles Superior Court

All 13 Informal Juvenile and Traffic Courts are scheduled to close June 15 and those cases instead routed through adult traffic courts or to the Probation Department as part of an effort to contend with deep state funding cuts and reduce the Los Angeles County Superior Courts spending by $30 million.

The change means 65,000 cases that involve typically lower-level offenses that students are cited for in and around school campuses, for example daytime curfew violations or disorderly conduct, will be sent to the Probation Department, which can determine whether to dismiss them, divert them, or send them onward to the District Attorney for filing, said Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Nash.

Nash said the Probation Department is working on developing a plan as to how it will deal with the influx of juvenile cases.

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New city law recognizes the pitfalls of fining children for being late to school

Nabil Romero, student talks truancy

Tami Abdollah/KPCC

Nabil Romero, 18, a freshman at West Los Angeles College was a senior at Roybal Learning Center when he got a truancy ticket in March 2011. He speaks to the media about his experience.

If there’s one thing you can count on Maceo Bradley to do, it’s get to school on time.  The 17-year-old Locke High School senior makes the 10-minute walk to school every morning from his family’s home in the Watts neighborhood of south Los Angeles.

Bradley says he’s only arrived at school after the bell rang three times in his high-school career, and when he woke up at 7:30 a.m. on a January morning last year, he certainly didn’t expect that day to be number four.

“I was actually doing really good on time,” Bradley remembers.

But something important was happening that day.  He and other classmates were selling coupon cards to raise money for a college tour, and if Bradley didn’t turn in his remaining cards when he got to school, he wouldn’t be able to go on the trip. 

After finally getting a hold of his mom on the phone, Bradley found the cards and made his way to school 20-minutes late.  Once on campus, an unexpected visitor was there to greet him – a uniformed police officer ready to write him a $250 truancy ticket.  As Bradley would discover later, officers routinely waited in the school’s office to hand out tickets to latecomers.

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Plan calls for major cuts to LA county juvenile courts system

Jordon Cooper/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

Los Angeles Superior Court

All 13 Informal Juvenile and Traffic Courts will be closed and four Delinquency Courts shuttered under the latest Los Angeles County Superior Court plan to deal with millions in proposed state budget cuts, according to an email sent last week by Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Nash to L.A. County officials.

As a result, tens of thousands of cases that involve typically lower-level offenses that students are cited for in and around school campuses, for example daytime curfew violations or disorderly conduct, will instead be routed through the remaining 24 Delinquency Courts — a  system that often deals with more serious felony violations that would be considered criminal if committed by an adult.

"We're pushing those kids into a system that puts kids on formal probation and many times has to send kids away to juvenile probation camps, or take them out of their home," said David Sapp, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California.

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L.A. City Council unanimously approves changes to daytime curfew law

Students rally to support change to LA's daytime curfew law

Tami Abdollah / KPCC

Students rally to support a change to LA's daytime curfew law at a February 2012 meeting of L.A. City Council's public safety committee.

L.A. City Council unanimously voted this morning in favor of changes to the city's daytime curfew law to improve how the city deals with its truant students.

The measure, proposed by Councilmember Tony Cardenas, is one piece of a countywide effort to more holistically address problems with student attendance and to focus on understanding why a student is late rather than punishing them with a $250 fine.

"The parent, the school, everybody is now attending to that young person and actually asking the question 'What's going on?,' and after asking the question, we're listening to them," Cardenas said. "That is the way we should be doing things."

Under the amended municipal code, police will no longer cite students on their way to class or running late. Students will also not be fined the first two times they are ticketed. And instead of appearing in court, they will be directed to a counselor. For a third offense, a $20 citation may be issued and the student must appear in court.

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