Kentucky legislature passes bill to raise dropout age - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Kentucky legislature passes bill to raise dropout age

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CANNONSBURG, Ky. -

Anyone wanting to drop out of school in Kentucky will soon have to be 18 years old.

Some districts are already implementing the measure, just passed by the state legislature.

"Dropping out's really bad. You shouldn't do it," says Boyd County High School senior, James Ratliff.

Ratliff, 17, was about to drop out of school just weeks ago.

His mother was ready to sign the papers, when he was convinced by several staff members to stay in school.

Now, Ratliff wants to go to college, and supports raising the dropout age from 16 to 18.

"It's gonna make people not make stupid decisions like I was gonna make."

Parents overwhelmingly support the dropout age increase, according to a state survey.

Some of the parents opposed to the new rule say students that want to drop out but can't, might distract their classmates.

Administrators say they can prevent that.

"If we can keep a 16-year-old kid in school, even if they're a little disruptive, we'll have a plan to help them succeed," says David Trimble. "We're not going to allow them to interrupt this process."

While at Boyd County High School, we met senior, Megan Conn, who did something none of the teachers here had seen before.

Conn dropped out of Boyd County High School, only to return, make up her work, and put herself in a position to graduate this May.

Conn says, within weeks of dropping out, she regretted her decision.

"I was supposed to get my GED, but I didn't, because I just got lazy," says Conn. "And I was scared that I was going to be a bum, and just go through life like that."

But now, months away from graduation, Conn wants to go to college.

Soon many students won't even be given the option to drop out, and possibly regret it later on.

Once 55-percent of Kentucky school districts officially adopt the new dropout age, it will be mandatory state-wide.

Ohio already has a law that says students must be 18 to drop out.

West Virginia's dropout age is 17, but the state has allowed some districts to raise it to 18.