Students aren’t the only ones returning to school this fall. The staff of the District Attorney’s Abolish Chronic Truancy (ACT) program also has begun another school year.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office (LADA) offers intervention programs designed to help students who frequently miss school get back into class every day and on time. More than 9,500 elementary and middle school-aged students were referred to these programs in the 2015-16 school year.
“Our job is to keep kids in school and out of the criminal justice system,” said Deputy District Attorney Lydia Bodin, who leads LADA’s anti-truancy efforts. “We work with families to try to address the causes of habitual absences and find long-term solutions.”
By making sure children stay in school, LADA is working to prevent truants from later becoming criminals. Statistics show that most state prison inmates dropped out of high school.
“We want to give all students the strong foundation they deserve – and that includes a good education and a high school diploma,” Bodin said.
A truant is defined by state law as any student who is absent from school for three days or is late more than 30 minutes for three days in a school year. Ditching without a parent or guardian’s knowledge is just one way a student may become truant. They also may rack up unexcused absences when the family extends a vacation or takes a day off to go to the amusement park.
And age doesn’t matter. California law requires all children between the ages of 6 and 18 to attend school. If they are not in schools, they are truant.
Two men allegedly carrying assault rifles and wearing body armor while walking on the streets of Inglewood were each charged with a felony. Read more about the case.
A 46-year-old man was sentenced to prison in a real estate scam in which he purchased properties at auctions using fake cashier checks. Learn more about his sentence.
A former assistant engineer for the city of Santa Clarita was charged with embezzling more than $500,000. Discover more about his alleged scheme.
Los Angeles County Superior Court officials are warning the public that individuals are posing as sheriff’s deputies, contacting residents and telling them they are in contempt of court for missing jury duty and warrants have been issued for their arrest.
On Aug. 20, District Attorney Jackie Lacey welcomed LADA retirees – who meet regularly under the name “Old Timers” – to the historic Hall of Justice for lunch and a tour of the building.
A Day in the Life: Catalina Prosecutor
Deputy District Attorney Karen Brako climbs aboard a roaring helicopter every other Friday and heads to work.
As the sun rises, she enjoys the serene ocean view. Fifteen minutes later, Brako arrives at her destination. She hops onto a golf cart to complete her commute to the Catalina Courthouse, located in the heart of the city of Avalon.
The little-known courthouse, which is 22 miles off the coast of Long Beach, has been operational for more than 50 years. It is accessible by boat or helicopter.
Last month, Brako arrived in court before the judge. He was looking for a place to moor his boat.
That’s life on the island.
Time slows down and even courtroom attire becomes uncharacteristically casual. Sun-kissed defendants appear before the court not in suits but in T-shirts, jeans and flip-flops.
Even the criminal offenses are of a different variety than on the mainland.
Brako routinely prosecutes murders in Long Beach. But, in the Catalina Courthouse, she tries only misdemeanor cases, such as public intoxication and driving under the influence in a golf cart.
Her legal expertise has grown in this unique assignment. Brako is one of the few prosecutors in Los Angeles County who regularly turns to California’s Fish and Game Code when determining what charges to file.
A common offense: abalone poaching. The pilfering of even one abalone can result in a $15,000 fine, with additional penalties from the court that can total a whopping $61,000.
Did You Know...?
The parents or guardian of a student considered truant under state law may be charged with a misdemeanor.
Teenage truants, however, may face the ultimate deterrent: they may be ineligible for a California driver’s license until they are 21.