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JCPS Board To Approve New Dropout Age And New Code of Conduct

Jefferson County Public Schools is expected to join the 88 Kentucky school districts that have voluntarily approved a new dropout age of 18, following approval by the school board at Monday night's meeting.

Many of those districts rushed to voluntarily approve the new dropout age, raising it from 16 to 18. This is partly because Gov. Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Education Department are giving $10,000 grants to the first 96 districts that approve the policy.  Under new state law, that’s how many districts (55 percent of the state's 174 districts) need to change their dropout age before Kentucky mandates that all districts across the state follow suit within four years. The early adopters will have two years to implement their plans, which will likely need to support additional students who would have otherwise dropped out. Education officials recognize the state grants are a small part of the overall costs associated with new or improved programming, but the many districts quickly passed the new policy in the first few days allowed. JCPS is a long-time supporter of the policy and earlier this year the board passed a resolution announcing plans for its approval. JCPS Code of Conduct Also on Monday's agenda under Action Items is the approval of the 2013-2014 Code of Conduct, which is also called the "Code of Acceptable Behavior and Discipline and the Student Bill of Rights." Here's a link to this past school year's code. JCPS has been pressured by the group Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together, or CLOUT, to address the disproportionate number of minority students who are punished under the current code, which includes a zero-tolerance policy that has been criticized nationwide for contributing to the School-to-Prison Pipeline. The group has pushed for restorative practices to have a larger role in the districts code. Restorative practices allow schools and teachers to offer creative, community-based solutions instead of out-of-school punishments for problems that aren't an immediate threat. CLOUT criticized Superintendent Donna Hargens earlier this yearfor pursuing restorative practices in some schools that the group claims want to pilot the program. Hargens says no school has fully committed to the idea and she remains open to helping those principals who wish to try restorative practices. Officials have told WFPL that more restorative practice language has been built into the new code, but it will likely not be the center piece CLOUT had hoped for. (Image via Shutterstock.com

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