Community Rights Campaign, Public Counsel, and the ACLU of Southern California applaud today’s decision by the Los Angeles County Education Coordinating Council to endorse the findings and recommendations from the multi-agency Student Attendance Task Force (SATF). The recommendations, which were unanimously endorsed by the SATF’s members, are a step forward for Los Angeles County, because they emphasize connecting students to resources to address the causes of attendance issues – rather than punitive approaches proven ineffective as the primary response to truancy or poor attendance. They call for significant reforms to every county agency that interacts with youth who struggle with attendance, including courts, police, and schools.

There are many reasons why students may be late or absent, and research shows that the only way consistently to improve attendance rates is through programs capable of assessing and addressing the specific reasons each child struggles to get to school. Yet there has been little coordination among the youth-serving agencies in Los Angeles and an over-reliance on punitive approaches that are simply incapable of addressing the individual circumstances that lead to truancy or chronic absence.

Our organizations have been working together for over two years to change the way Los Angeles enforces its daytime curfew law, which has resulted in new enforcement directives from the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles School Police Department, and we strongly support a motion by Councilmember Tony Cardenas to amend the City’s daytime curfew law.

“As participants on the SATF, we are pleased to be a part of a broad, diverse group of public agencies and community organizations, including school districts, the courts, and law enforcement, that are working together to develop and implement programs that are proven to be effective,” said David Sapp, Staff Attorney, ACLU of Southern California. “Like every other member of the SATF, our goal is to ensure that students are in school, receiving the services they need, so they can graduate with the skills to get a job or go to college. The ACLU, Public Counsel and the Community Rights Campaign look forward to working with the SATF to make the recommendations that were adopted today a reality for the youth of Los Angeles County.”