Former educator works to curb high school drop out rates

Former educator works to curb high school drop out rates

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - It could soon be harder your high school student to drop out of school. A former guidance counselor is pushing for changes to keep kids in the classroom and off the streets.

Mark Epstein wants to increase the legal drop-out age from 17 to 18 years old.

"It shouldn't be a choice any more, it needs to be made an obligation," said Epstein.

Epstein worked in education for 30 years, most recently as a guidance counselor at West Ashley High School. Now retired, he's still trying to get as many students as he can through graduation with a high school diploma in hand.

"Maybe I did save some, but it's the ones I didn't that made a lasting impression on me," said Epstein.

As of now, students in South Carolina can legally drop out of high school at 17 years old.

Epstein says by keeping them in school until 18, there is a higher chance that these students will graduate with high school diplomas.

Principal of West Ashley High School, Lee Runyon, agrees.

"As a community, we take on the responsibility of some poor decision making that actually began the day they decided not attend school," said Runyon.

Epstein says this is an issue that impacts everyone, eventually.

"It becomes a bigger problem to our society later on, if a young person can't support themselves," said Epstein. "It impacts unemployment, crime, homelessness - those are serious issues. We all have to look at the big picture."

Epstein has been meeting with local lawmakers, school boards and even the governor. Representative Wendell Gillard is one of his biggest supporters and has vowed to write and sponsor this legislation.

24 other states have already passed similar laws in the last few years.

Copyright WCSC 2015. All rights reserved.