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Chronic truancy and eventual involvement in crime go hand in hand. Studies show that today’s chronic truant is tomorrow’s criminal. In 1997, the California Youth Authority conducted an intake survey which showed that 76% of those committed to the CYA had missed an average of two years of school, had stopped attending school regularly in the fifth or sixth grade, and were not attending school at the time they were arrested. As a result, the District Attorney’s Office – as the chief law enforcement agency in the county – has implemented powerful programs to address the truancy problem and help youth stay in school.


A.C.T., or Abolish Chronic Truancy, places District Attorney's Office personnel in elementary schools to work with administrators, teachers, parents and students to intervene at the very beginning of the truancy cycle. District Attorney representatives inform parents that it is their legal responsibility to ensure their children attend school and that education is as essential as food, clothing, and shelter in a child’s life. If there are problems interfering with the ability of the child to go to school, District Attorney personnel attempt to find community resources to help overcome those problems. If the child continues to be truant, criminal legal action can be taken against the student, the parent, or both.

A.C.T. intervenes at the elementary-school age for a number of reasons:

  1. Truant behavior is not as ingrained at this age as it will later become.
  2. The parent of the elementary school-aged child still has control over the child and can, therefore, be held accountable.
  3. If intervention occurs later in the child’s life, he will have fallen so far behind academically as a result of truancy that getting the pupil back in school will be a matter of winning the battle having already lost the war.

While prosecution can result from A.C.T. intervention, the focus of the program is not to punish parents and students, but to get truants off the streets and back in the classrooms.

Truancy Mediation Program

The District Attorney’s Hearing Officer Program works with school districts School Attendance Review Boards (SARBs) to combat truancy among all age groups between Kindergarten through 12th grade. When students and/or their parents violate school attendance laws, the matters are often referred to the District Attorney’s Office for an office hearing.

The goal of the mediation process is to return each truant to school while holding them responsible for their actions. In lieu of immediate referral for prosecution, the student and parents are given an opportunity to enter into a District Attorney School Attendance Contract. By entering the contract, students and parents agree to immediately eliminate unexcused absences and tardies, to correct behavioral problems, and to adhere to SARB directives and other hearing officer resolutions. Failure to adhere to the contract can result in formal prosecution.

A.C.T. Program
Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office
Lynwood Regional Justice Center
11701 Alameda Street, 2nd Floor, Rm. 3285
Lynwood, CA 90262
Tel. (323) 357-5380
Fax (323) 357-7352

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Site updated: 31 Oct 2014
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