Our Stories

LA City Council Votes 14-0 to Fix Law That Led to $1,000 Tickets for Late Students

Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Nash and Public Counsel's Laura Faer at City Hall

The Los Angeles City Council has voted 14-0 to fix the city’s broken student curfew law, culminating years of action by Public Counsel and other groups across the city.

Public Counsel helped expose how enforcement of the law has led to $1,000 tickets for students who can’t afford to pay, singled out students of color, and discouraged students from attending school. Previously under city law, students late to class for the first time could face $250 fees that grew to $1,000 or more with penalties and court fees. Police wrote 47,000 tickets from 2005-2009 to students under the law.

The historic vote caps a multi-year effort by Public Counsel, the Community Rights Campaign, the ACLU of Southern California, and hundreds of students and parents. Over the past year the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles School Police, LAUSD School Board, and Juvenile Courts have introduced new rules to reduce the thousands of tickets written each year and direct students who are late or skip class to services that can help them get back on track.

More than 200 students, parents and teachers from across Los Angeles watched and cheered as Councilman Tony Cárdenas, Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Nash, LAUSD Board President Monica Garcia, members of Dignity in Schools Los Angeles and many others spoke out in favor of the change.

"The City Council has taken a historic step forward. With the passage of this motion, schools not police are now the first line of defense for attendance,” Public Counsel's Education Rights Director Laura Faer told the Center for Public Integrity. "Students will no longer be placed on the jailhouse track just because their bus was late, they helped a little sister get to school, or they were struggling with a mental health problem."

"We're here today because we have heard your voice," Judge Nash said to students before the council meeting. "Student attendance is not a court issue. Student attendance is an issue for the schools and families."

See more photos at Public Counsel's Facebook page

Read more about this historic vote:

Read more iWatch News/Center for Public Integrity: Los Angeles ends big fines, limits police enforcement of truancy law


Read more Associated Press: LA council moves to amend criticized truancy law