Strict Truancy Enforcement Announced for Wednesday

March 28, 2006

Los Angeles: Following the second day of student walk-outs, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton joined Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Sheriff Lee Baca, and School Superintendent Roy Romer in announcing that students will face being cited for truancy, beginning Wednesday, March 29.

The announcement came after the second day of student protests and demonstrations against a proposed federal immigration bill. The concern is largely for the safety of students and the importance of them getting an education.

For the second day in a row, students walked on to freeways in San Pedro and Van Nuys, putting themselves and the motoring public in jeopardy. "Walking onto freeways has nothing to do with free speech," said Chief Bratton, at the Mayor’s news conference today. "It’s insanity."

The number of students absent from schools protesting today were just over 8,000, down from yesterday’s estimated 26,000 from city schools.

Officers detained in excess of 180 students in San Pedro after they were prevented from walking across the Vincent Thomas Bridge early this morning. Several dozen students were detained when they walked onto the 405 Freeway. The students were cited under a municipal loitering section, which prohibits school-aged children from loitering during school hours.

In Van Nuys, 39 students were cited for being a pedestrian on the freeway, a vehicle code violation, after a group of 2,000 students converged on the 405 Freeway, near Sherman Way. Those students later dispersed. Other groups amassed at the Van Nuys City Hall, after stopping at the State building and the Braude Building.

Under both sections, students will have to report to court, with their parents. They can face fines and community service. The school district will be responsible for any discipline for unexcused absences.

The LAPD, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Los Angeles Unified School District and its police department, formulated a strategic plan with the Mayor’s office to address future student protests. The message to parents is that they have a responsibility to ensure their children attend school, and students who skip classes to show up at protests during school hours will be detained, cited and returned to their respective schools. The LAPD is prepared to handle large numbers, if needed, by instituting on-site field processing operations.