"I wouldn't pay a fine," said one girl, a junior who sported a baggy basketball jersey. She boasted that she misses school more often than not and has never been caught for forging her mother's signature on notes to the attendance office. "They don't check," she said, "as long as you put a phone number on there."
Other students, though, predicted that the bravado might fade when the courts and, worse yet, parents are drawn into the picture by police.
"If I ditched and I heard about the new law, I wouldn't risk getting caught. I'd get in a lot of trouble at home," said Nicole Horn, 16, of Chatsworth.
In Monrovia, 80 students have been cited since the fall and subjected to fines of $135 and up or ordered to perform 27 hours of community service, such as shelving library books and painting over graffiti.
Police Officer Jim Hunt said that city's law, which took effect last fall, "helps attendance a lot."
Monrovia High School Principal Lois Wurmbrand said truancy is still a "big problem." But, she said, "I believe it's making an impact. Kids are aware they can be caught. They are following our rules more stringently, having passes to be off campus and that sort of thing."
Confirmation of those beliefs, though, won't be available until truancy statistics are compiled in Monrovia at the end of the year.
Several Monrovia High students said they are skeptical. But one 16-year-old who had just been cited Wednesday for failing to return from lunch promptly said the law had made an impression on him.
"If I had known about it, I wouldn't have been late," said the boy as he accepted his ticket, telling a reporter: "No one will ditch out of school. They will stay in school."
Times staff writer Isaac Guzman and correspondent Deborah Sullivan contributed to this story.