The Los Angeles Unified School District is working hand in hand with the city to debut a trunacy-diversion program that focuses on resolving problems associated with skipping school, rather than punishing students with citations and fines. Until last Monday, chronically truant students were “funneled into the criminal justice system” which was an increasingly frustrating process for both families and juvenile courts alike. Moreover, a disproportionate number of these tickets were issued to black and Latino students in South and East LA.
Now, students with multiple citations for truancy or excessive tardiness will be referred to one of the 13 Youth WorkSource Centers where LAUSD counselors will not only look to resolve problems if possible, but also help them get back on track for graduation.
This is a positive step in the right direction—our priorities right now are to make sure our students have the available resources to succeed. Attendance may falter for a plethora of reasons, but it is to no one’s advantage to ticket students, then send their families to court with hefty bills. More after-school programs, mentorship, and skill training should be made accessible to their communities so that students have direction and a chance to be engaged within and beyond the classroom.