Kentucky Lawmakers Target High School Dropout Ages for Both U.S. and Foreign Born Students

Feb 15, 2013

Students wouldn't be allowed to drop out of school before their 18th birthday under legislation that's passed the Kentucky House. The House also passed a bill sponsored by Bowling Green Democrat Jody Richards that would allow foreign born students to stay in school until they're 23.

Governor Beshear has been promoting the drop out legislation for years, most recently in his annual State of the Commonwealth speech last month. The proposal would increase the dropout age incrementally from 16 to 17 to 18 over a period of six years, giving both students and school districts time to adjust to the change.

The Democratic-controlled House has approved the measure in past years, but it has never been passed by the Republican majority in the Senate. Critics fear, among other things, that classrooms would be disrupted by students who don't want to be there.

Richards' bill would allow local school boards to let refugees and foreign born students extend their stay in high school from the age of 21 to 23. Richards said his bill would allow those students to catch up after arriving in their country with a poor education or none at all.

Some Representatives who opposed the measure said it would help the foreign born students while students with disabilities would still have to leave school at 21. Other critics expressed concerns that a 23 year old man could be attending school with a 15 year old girl.