LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The number of truancy citations issued to students by Los Angeles Unified School District police has plunged over the last four years, according to a new study.

According to the report (PDF) from the Community Rights Campaign, only 209 truancy tickets were issued through May of last school year, compared to 2,855 in 2010 and 1,618 in 2011.

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Data officially released by the LAUSD states 3,356 truancy tickets were issued in 2010, 2,625 in 2011 and 726 in 2012, marking a 78 percent reduction between 2010 and 2012.

Only 77 truancy tickets have been issued so far this school year, according to the LAUSD.

The study also found that tickets issued by the Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD) for all offenses plunged by nearly 55 percent since 2011.

Researchers credited the trend to a shift in policy that directs students to a district-sponsored counseling program under a partnership launched last year among district, city and school police officials.

Students are also no longer ticketed when close to the campus as the first bell rings, according to a statement from LAUSD officials.

The study found the ratio of citations per black student to citations per white student was nearly 6 to 1 in the 2012-2013 school year, compared to a ratio of nearly 4 to 1 in 2010-2011.

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Latino students are over 2.5 times more likely than white students to get ticketed, while black students are 4.5 times more likely than white students to get ticketed, according to the study.

Nearly half of the over 4,100 arrests and tickets issued by the LASPD were of youth ages 14 and under, researchers said.

In a statement released in response to the findings, the LAUSD said, “The District and the Los Angeles School Police Department continue to analyze the most appropriate means to address student law violators. We will continue to address many issues administratively within the school environment.”

In May, the Board of Education voted to discontinue its use of “willful defiance” by students as a suspend-able offense.

The LAUSD also plans by 2020 to implement alternatives to traditional disciplinary measures that “focus on healing, respect, support, and the general well-being of the students involved.”

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