South Carolina takes first step to raise dropout age to 18

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC) - The state has now taken the first step to raising South Carolina's dropout age to 18.

The House Education Subcommittee voted unanimously on Tuesday to a dropout bill which the General Assembly will officially vote on.

Under current law, South Carolina teens can drop out of high school without parental consent as soon as they turn 17.

This bill proposes bringing that age to 18 to give school counselors and administrators that one extra year to help catch kids up on coursework and help them earn a high school diploma.

25 other states have changed the dropout age to 18.

Retired CCSD guidance counselor Mark Epstein has been pushing for years to make this change.

He says it gives kids one extra year to catch up in school work and find a career path.

"The students that struggled previously were left with no choice but to dropout because they had no hope," Epstein said."We're on our way to changing that for future generations."

"If it's going to keep people in school, give people hope, get people jobs, a future, I say let's do it," said Rep. Wendell Gilliard.

Last year, the South Carolina Department of Education raised concerns about the bill saying family court wouldn't have jurisdiction over truancy cases in the 17 to 18 age range.

But since then, legislators changed that law. Also, SCDE said on Tuesday they withdrew their concerns.

If the bill passes, South Carolina would become the 26th state to implement an age-18 dropout requirement.

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