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TRUANCY SWEEP NETS 57 DEPUTIES PICK UP TEENS SKIPPING SCHOOL IN A.V.

Byline: Greg Botonis Staff Writer

LANCASTER - In the second truancy sweep this week, sheriff's deputies picked up 57 truant teens from throughout the Antelope Valley, officials said.

Despite newspaper and television reports on the planned sweep, four more truants were netted Wednesday than on the first sweep Monday.

``We just got some kids that are misdirected or in some cases kids who are not given direction at home,'' said the Rev. Billy Pricer, executive director of the United Community Action Network, an anti-delinquency program that participates in the sweeps.

Working in the Delinquency Abatement through the Reduction of Truancy, or DART, program, deputies picked up most of the teens as they walked along city streets. School evaders were taken to either the U-CAN building or Palmdale High School, where they were issued citations.

DART, started by sheriff's Deputy John Rush and Marcello Bedetti of the Antelope Valley Union High School District, is a concentrated effort to curb crimes committed by teens during school hours, when youth crimes are most numerous.

``Studies have shown a direct correlation between truancy and the number of crimes committed by youths,'' said Pricer.

Teens picked up Wednesday were released to their parents, who had been called to get them. The truants must now appear in court and face a fine of $125 for a first offense and up to $710 for a third.

The DART program was put into place last spring and brought in more than 300 students in a five-day sweep. At the beginning of this school year, 111 truants were picked up during a three-day sweep.

Officials say they will intensify their efforts until the Christmas vacation.

The U-CAN facility offers programs for parents and children ranging from individual and family counseling and therapy to recreational programs and computer training. The facility and its staff have been key players in the DART program since its inception, offering a site for truants to await citations and also offering program services to the students and their parents upon their arrival.

``We've got a tremendous amount of programs but typically people fail to seek help until they've become desperate,'' said Pricer.

CAPTION(S):

3 photos

Photo:

(1 -- color) A truant enters Lancaster High's van under the watchful eyes of a school security member and, at right, community attendance worker Jolyn Shareves.

(2 -- 3 -- color) Above, Los Angeles County Probation Officer Darla Coddington, in background, and sheriff's Deputy Mike Kuper question two truants caught Wednesday during Antelope Valley's second truancy sweep this week. At left, a sheriff's Deputy calls in information on a truant who sits in the back of the patrol car. Truants must appear in court and pay fines that start at $125.

Jeff Goldwater/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 30, 2000
Words:453
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