Law & Courts

Kentucky’s New Dropout Law Could Face Legal Challenges

By Valarie Honeycutt Spears, Lexington Herald-Leader — July 20, 2015 2 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Kentucky’s new law that raises the school dropout age from 16 to 18 could be in for both a legal challenge and revision from the 2016 General Assembly.

The idea behind the law, which went into effect July 1, is to increase the percentage of high school graduates and better prepare students for careers or college.

But some dropouts who are close to earning a GED, or general equivalency diploma, would be required to go back to high school and could not take the GED exam until after they turn 18. They would be considered truant if they do not return to school.

Some lawmakers are getting complaints about that unintended consequence.

“We may have to address this in the 2016 session,” said state Sen. Tom Buford, R-Nicholasville.

There is no doubt that getting a high school diploma will result in students becoming better citizens, said Buford. But he said the law has caused problems for some students and parents.

One of the issues, said Buford, is “how do we provide care for young women with children?”

The story of one young mother, Alexis Barnett, 17, of Lexington, was featured in Sunday’s Herald-Leader.

“We need to provide day care if we force them to attend. We did not address this in the bill,” Buford said.

Rep. Derrick Graham, D-Frankfort, who is House Education Committee chairman, said he had heard similar concerns and that he would talk to General Assembly leaders and the bill’s sponsors to see if anything can be done to deal with unintended consequences.

The bill’s sponsor, Sen. David Givens, R-Greensburg, said he had not received complaints. “Certainly we are open to taking a look at addressing issues that may exist,” he said. “However, the phased-in approach that we took with the original legislation should have provided ample time for both school districts and students to be aware that this is happening.”

There are advocates for children who are considering litigation regarding the law, said Rebecca Ballard DiLoreto, director of litigation for the Children’s Law Center.

Kentucky puts children in juvenile detention centers for offenses such as truancy. They are housed with those faced with prosecution in adult court on serious felony crimes, she said.

“The school district is not necessarily providing any additional support for these kids. That is our concern,” said DiLoreto.

Any change in the law next year is not going to come in time for dropouts required to attend school this fall, she said.

Terry Brooks, executive director of Kentucky Youth Advocates, said he doesn’t think there was ever an intent to punish teens who had dropped out before the law was passed, but who have not yet turned 18.

“The K-12 community and state leaders do have a real opportunity — and obligation — to become imaginative in working with young people who have dropped out before the law or those now in the throes of making a bad dropping-out decision,” he said.

The state could focus on alternative and technology/trade programs “to draw in — rather than suppress — vulnerable kids,” he said. “In a lot of ways, this issue is a pivot point. Are we only going to comply with the law? In which case, young people may pay unintended prices. Or is it about a commitment to the spirit of the law, in which case innovative options will flourish, giving vulnerable youth a track to a productive future.”

Copyright (c) 2015 Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Start Strong With Solid SEL Implementation: Success Strategies for the New School Year
Join Satchel Pulse to learn why implementing a solid SEL program at the beginning of the year will deliver maximum impact to your students.
Content provided by Satchel Pulse
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Science Webinar
Real-World Problem Solving: How Invention Education Drives Student Learning
Hear from student inventors and K-12 teachers about how invention education enhances learning, opens minds, and preps students for the future.
Content provided by The Lemelson Foundation
Jobs Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts At the Supreme Court, High School Students Express Disappointment Over Abortion Decision
Students showed up to flex their civic muscles in the wake of the court ruling.
4 min read
From left, teenagers Sonia and Lilia Oulamine march outside the Supreme Court on June 24, 2022.
From left, Sonia and Lilia Oulamine march outside the Supreme Court on June 24, 2022.
Eesha Pendharkar/Education Week
Law & Courts What the 'Roe v. Wade' Reversal Means for Educators, Schools, and Students
The decision will dramatically reshape the context of schooling for the women-dominated profession—as well as affect students, counselors, and health curricula.
7 min read
Anti-abortion and abortion-rights protesters gather outside the Supreme Court in Washington, Friday, June 24, 2022. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years, a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court's landmark abortion cases.
Anti-abortion and abortion-rights protesters gather outside the Supreme Court Friday. The court issued a ruling ending constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years.
Jose Luis Magana/AP
Law & Courts Supreme Court Overturns 'Roe v. Wade’; States Can Ban Abortion
The decision, unthinkable just a few years ago, was the culmination of decades of efforts by abortion opponents.
7 min read
A celebration outside the Supreme Court, Friday, June 24, 2022, in Washington. The Supreme Court has ended constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years — a decision by its conservative majority to overturn the court's landmark abortion cases. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
Law & Courts School Groups Worry as Supreme Court Recognizes Right to Carry Handguns in Public
In a 6-3 decision over a New York state law, the court says little about schools as 'sensitive places' where guns can be prohibited.
6 min read
Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the court in 2021.
Members of the U.S. Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the court in 2021.
Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP