LOS ANGELES (AP) — The number of truancy tickets issued to students in the Los Angeles school district has dropped by more than 93 percent during the past four years, as the district changes the way it deals with misbehavior, according to a report.
The sharp reduction reflects a move by school police to lessen their presence in schools and instead use positive incentives and mediation, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday.
The report by the Community Rights Campaign also found that tickets for all offenses have plunged by nearly 55 percent since the 2011-12 school year.
African Americans and Latinos still receive a disproportionate number of tickets: Blacks were almost six times as likely and Latinos were twice as likely to be ticketed than whites, according to the report released last week.
The district took issue with the report's focus on continued racial disparities, saying tickets to African Americans had dropped in 2012 by 22 percent and by 44 percent to Latinos.
"Each year, we continue to reduce crime, reduce arrests, reduce suspensions and increase positive relationships with students," the district said in a statement
Under a partnership launched last year among district, city and school police, truant students are more often sent to city youth centers to receive educational counseling and other services to address their academic struggles.
"The report shows a mutual victory for the community and LAUSD," the campaign's Manuel Criollo told the newspaper. "But there's still work to be done."
Scores of students, parents, teachers and community members recently rallied in South Los Angeles to press for even more changes. The campaign is urging the district and school police to end all ticketing and arrests for offenses that pose no immediate and serious threat to others.
Other recommendations include ending all ticketing for elementary and middle school students. More than 47 percent of those students ticketed in 2012-13 were 14 and younger, according to the Times.
The campaign is also calling for more spending on counselors and other school officials rather than law enforcement officers.