Criminalization of tardies misguided [podcast]

Today I was rushing to make some copies before the end of my 1st period conference, when I saw Mr. Lopez hurriedly making copies. He told me that the police were once again ticketing tardy students just outside the school gates and taking them to the student cafeteria for processing. He was copying an informational flyer for the students to get help in defending themselves from this injustice.

You see, when a student gets a truancy ticket they have to appear in court with a parent, which means that parent has to miss work. And the fine for a first “offense” is $250.

I actually had a student who wrote about this last year, which was featured in the national edition of My High School Journalism, and a follow-up piece as well, but obviously it didn’t change the police approach.

Right after this, I went to my classroom for the start of homeroom. One of my students was quite upset because he had just received a ticket. He told me that he was just outside the front gate of the school when the police pulled up and took him and his friend into the squad car. He said they drove them around for a while and then took them to the cafeteria, where one of the police officers said, “Now you’re a criminal,” and, according to the student, someone told him they would be keeping their eye on him and would transfer him to another school if he was late again.

Why was he late? Although it doesn’t really matter, he said it was because on Wednesdays his mom can’t bring him to school, so he has to take the bus. He was waiting for his friend, who came late to the bus stop. Then the bus was “taking forever.” Does this mean it’s ok to arrive to school 25 minutes late? Of course not, but this student is not chronically late. He is not a criminal. So why are the police treating him like one? And why are Roosevelt and the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools allowing it?

Mr. Lopez feels that the city and PLAS should focus on providing more support programs if they want to engage students in school and improve attendance. He pointed me to KPCC, who ran a story about this issue a few months ago



One thought on “Criminalization of tardies misguided [podcast]”

  1. Even after all these years’ education about the ill that criminalizing youth brings to the community, LAUSD police hasn’t graduated.

    Although I bet they’re operating on that ridiculous and discredited “broken windows” theory that led NYC mayor Giuliani to try to end jaywalking there.

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