A divided Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education on Tuesday approved two measures that could result in potentially sweeping changes for the district.
The board approved changes to how the district deals with truancy, lessening the punitive approach of its previous policies.
They also instructed staff to explore the possibility of lifting school boundaries that have long been used to assign students to schools based on where they live.
Several district and Los Angeles city officials joined community advocates in applauding amendments made to its daytime curfew law, which will now stipulate that students who are on their way to school will no longer be ticketed and fined.
More than 47,000 tickets were issued to students under the daytime curfew law from 2004 to 2009, according to LAPD and district police data.
Officials say they will ensure that the district will approach truancy and tardiness as a student attendance issue, rather than as a crime.
“For too long ticketing and criminalization was the norm that only further pushed youth out of school and was getting them one foot closer to the criminal justice system,” said Manuel Criollo with the Community Rights Campaign.
Board members Tamar Galatzan and Marguerite LaMotte voted against the resolution.
The board also voted on Tuesday to have district staff look into eliminating school boundaries, so that students will no longer be assigned to schools based solely on where they live.
Board Member Monica Garcia said lifting school boundaries would “give parents and students the ability to choose a school based on their academic interest and needs, not based on their ZIP code.”
Students and parents would be allowed to pick schools based on its atmosphere, class sizes, test scores and after-school programs, she said.
Board members Richard Vladovic, Marguerite LaMotte and Bennett Kayser voted against the proposal, arguing that it would be too costly, lead to segregation, and cause students to leave their own neighborhood schools.
They also argued the change would weaken an agreement reached with the District’s teachers’ union, UTLA, to allow teachers and principals greater latitude in developing and implementing reforms at the school level.
District staff was asked to bring back recommendations on the proposal in 90 days.