High School Dropout Age in SC Would Rise Under New Bill

The new bill would increase the "drop out" age from 17 to 18.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Students who want to drop out of high school may be a bit disappointed in a new bill at the Statehouse.

The new bill would increase the "drop out" age from 17 to 18.

Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D) District 111 Charleston says, because you have a lot of students when you interact with them when they get to age 17 that's the law they're out. You see there's no hope. but you see you have that percentage of children that want to keep on keeping on."

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Currently you must be 17-years-old to legally drop out of school, but lawmakers want to change that age to 18.

But, drop out prevention specialist point out in order to decrease drop out rates, students have to be identified early.

Dr. Sandy Addis, Regional Director National Drop Out prevention center says, "It's not an event.It's not that a kid says OK' i'm 16 i'm going to drop out because I can.Their level of engagement deteriorates over a period of time. They get frustrated, they say well i can't make it i might as well drop out."

The bill passed unanimously in it's first round of review with state representatives. They're hoping extending the time in school will lead to higher graduation rates.

Rep Gilliard, "that guarantees us more citizens being productive not going to prison, Going into the workforce, Giving them hope. I think that's what we're going to get out of this. "

Dr. Addis says, "When we raise the legal age we are in fact sending a message that says graduation is important and that in itself gets some attention."

Now if a student under 17 fails to show up to school repeatedly they may be sent to family court or event the Department of Juvenile Justice.

Parents of students under the age of 12 are held responsible if their child misses too many days.