- Associated Press - Saturday, October 10, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - More than 100 former Jefferson County Public Schools students who dropped out are now re-enrolled in classes.

The Courier-Journal reports (https://cjky.it/1RyYyhz) state’s largest school district has been making a push to bring back dropouts after a new state law raised the dropout age from 16 to 18.

The district has identified 217 dropouts under 18. Of those, 41 have returned to their former schools, 62 have signed up for an alternative school or online classes with the district, seven are home schooling and 24 are enrolled in schools outside the district.

District officials are still working to get as many of the other 83 students enrolled as possible.

Raising the dropout age was meant to encourage students to graduate, and the law did not grandfather in students who had already dropped out. That means students under 18 who don’t re-enroll are in violation of the law and could potentially be brought to court.

Theresa Whitlow, a student response team coordinator for the district, said the challenge now is helping re-enrolled students succeed. She herself dropped out of school in the eighth grade, so she knows how difficult it can be for some students.

She recently met with a 17-year-old who had two small children and only half of a high school credit. At least 22 credits are required to graduate.

But Whitlow said the higher dropout age may have been just the push some students needed to return.

Damiya Tooley praised Whitlow for her help getting re-enrolled in school after she dropped out about a year ago. Tooley said she was 16 when she left school because she didn’t feel she was going to make it to graduation and just didn’t want to try any longer.

Since then, she has realized she needs to go back to school - both for herself and for her 4-year-old daughter, Tamiya.

“I don’t want her thinking it’s OK to drop out of school,” Tooley said. “I realized you can’t get anywhere without a high school diploma.”

Tooley has already increased her credits from eight to 13, and she hopes to graduate in the spring. She is taking online classes in the evenings to make that happen. She also wants to continue on to college and study business management.

“They’re supposed to say no child left behind and all that, but to me, there are plenty of students left behind,” she said, ticking off the names of some who dropped out of school. “Sixteen comes quick … it’s good if you need to be 18 before you make that decision.”

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Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com


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