LAURINBURG — Scotland County is on pace to reduce its drop-out rate for a fourth consecutive year, the school board learned during its mid-year review this week.
Twenty-two students have dropped out of Scotland County Schools so far this school year, according to Assistant Superintendent of Auxiliary Services Larry Johnson.
The N.C. Board of Education defines a dropout as “any student who leaves school for any reason before graduation or completion of a program of studies without transferring to another elementary or secondary school.”
The breakdown of the 22 students that have dropped out this school year shows:
— Three moved out of the state and have not re-enrolled in school;
— Seven were withdrawn from school by their parents;
— Two stopped attending school because of work;
— Four due to behavior concerns and did not wish to attend alternatives such as the 3 to 6 p.m. program and;
— Six do not wish to return despite multiple contacts, calls and home visits.
Scotland County had 28 drop outs for the 2016-17 school year in grades 9-13, a rate of 1.6 percent, according to the North Carolina State Board of Education’s consolidated report of drop outs, suspensions and crimes reported in schools that was released in February.
The number of drop outs in the county hit a 10-year high in 2010-11 when 108 students dropped out. The number decreased in the 2011-12 school year to 82, but rose again in 2012-13 to 85.
The 2013-14 school year saw 80 students drop out and in the 2014-15 school year 97 dropped out. Data from the 46 students that dropped out during the 2015-16 school year showed the majority of those students, 15, left during their sophomore year.
In order to combat drop outs, the district implemented the Judicial Attendance Council which meets twice a month. Scotland County District Court judge Chris Rhue has met with 18 families about discipline issues and truancy.
“Fifteen of the 18 families that met with Judge Rhue have seen increased attendance,” said Johnson.
Despite a decrease in the drop-out rate, Johnson told the board that schools are still having issues with suspensions due to disruptive behavior and disrespect of faculty.
This school year, students have lost 1,932 days due to out of school suspensions across the county — an increase of 902 days from 2016-17.
“Students in poverty and African American males continue to have the highest suspension rates,” said Johnson.
Professional development is being offered to teachers that are having issues dealing and relating to those groups of students, according to Johnson.
“Teachers need to know how to deal with all students,” said board member Rick Singletary. “It’s a serious issue, we’re going to see that same group over at Shaw.”
One tool Johnson said the district has implemented is the Educator’s Handbook which allows teachers and administrators to monitor students disciple referrals, absences and any other areas of concern to help students before they are suspended or drop out.
Amber Hatten-Staley can be reached at 910-506-3170 or [email protected]