Section 16-28-3.1

Guidelines and procedures for withdrawal from school; dropout prevention program.

(a) A child over the age of 17 may withdraw from public school prior to graduation if both of the following circumstances exist:

(1) Written consent is granted by the child's parent or legal guardian.

(2) An exit interview is conducted where the student and the student's parent or legal guardian have been advised that withdrawal from school shall likely reduce the student's future earning potential and increase the student's likelihood of being unemployed in the future. During the exit interview, the student who is withdrawing from school shall be given information that has been prepared and supplied by the State Department of Education regarding the detrimental impacts and effects of early withdrawal from school along with any available training and employment opportunity programs, provided such information is available.

(b) The State Department of Education shall work with local public school systems that have the lowest four-year graduation rates. The department shall incorporate specific dropout prevention strategies, target resources, and gather data that will improve graduation rates and educational outcomes in all grades in all public schools. The department shall develop specific methods of targeted intervention or identify appropriate existing methods for local public school systems that have a four-year graduation rate less than the percentage as determined by the State Board of Education. These interventions may include the following:

(1) Early intervention for students who fail Algebra I, or any ninth grade reading or math class, and have insufficient credits to be promoted.

(2) Alternative education programs designed to reengage dropouts including, but not limited to, dual enrollment courses at the community college level.

(3) Increased availability of advanced placement courses.

(4) Offering full course fee waivers for students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches, when enrolled in dual credit courses.

(5) Flexible programs for older students who are currently not enrolled.

(6) Comprehensive coaching for middle school and high school students who are below grade level in reading and math or who are at risk due to poor attendance, behavior, or safety issues including, but not limited to, harassment and bullying.

(7) Teacher advisories and other supports that are designed to specifically address the needs of those students who are most at risk of dropping out of school by providing opportunities to build positive connections with peers and teachers and providing assistance with course selection, school performance, and completion of graduation requirements. Students who are most at risk of dropping out of school include, but are not limited to, those students who move often, have poor attendance, or have multiple suspensions or discipline issues.

(8) Strategies that are specifically designed to improve high school graduation rates for those teenagers who are at the highest risk of dropping out, including, but not limited to, students in the foster care system, pregnant students, student parents, English as second language students, and students with special educational needs.

(c) The department, in addition to other information and data, shall compile all of the following data to ensure that the dropout prevention program, and local versions of the program, are based upon evidence-based research, are data-driven, and show continuous improvement in:

(1) The total number of high school suspensions related to truancy.

(2) The total number of students enrolled in alternative education programs.

(3) The total number of students who have been reenrolled in programs with flexible schedules or community college programs.

(4) The total number of students who have failed Algebra I or ninth grade reading or math.

(5) The total number of students who are repeating the ninth grade.

(6) The total number of students receiving remedial assistance in the ninth grade.

(d) The department shall prepare and submit to the Legislature a written report that documents all of the following:

(1) The outcomes of the dropout prevention strategies to date, at the local school system level.

(2) Any planned modification of school system dropout prevention strategies and activities, based on the data compiled.

(Act 2009-564, p. 1648, §2.)