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News Link • Education: Government Schools

To Get Kids To Class, LA Softens Its Hard Line

• by Krissy Clark

Los Angeles is easing its stance on truancy. For the past decade, a tough city ordinance slapped huge fines on students for even one instance of skipping school or being late, but the Los Angeles City Council is changing that law to focus on helping students get to class because it turns out those harsh fines were backfiring.

Two years ago, Nabil Romero, a young Angeleno with a thin black mustache, was running late to his first period at a public high school on LA's Westside.

"I live two bus rides away from my school," he says. "The first bus ride took 45 minutes; the second one did as well. By the time I arrived [at] school, I was approached by police officers and I was told to stop. I was handcuffed, searched."

Romero had to pay a $350 truancy fine — a lot in a single-parent home like his.

"When my mom heard the fine, she was like, 'Oh, we're gong to have to cut back on a lot of stuff,' and we started cutting back on food expenses, clothes expenses, shoes," he recalls. "And this was all my fault."

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