Chapter 226


Enacted 07/03/07





     Introduced By: Representatives McNamara, Diaz, Crowley, Lewiss, and Savage

     Date Introduced: February 07, 2007


It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:


     SECTION 1. Title 16 of the General Laws entitled "EDUCATION" is hereby amended

by adding thereto the following chapter:


     CHAPTER 67.1




     16-67.1-1. Short title. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the "Rhode

Island High School Dropout Prevention Act of 2007."


     16-67.1-2. Targeted dropout prevention program. (a) The Rhode Island department

of elementary and secondary education shall work with the school districts that have the lowest

high school graduation rates. The department shall incorporate into its progressive support and

intervention specific dropout prevention strategies, target resources, and gather data that will

include graduation rates and educational outcomes in all Rhode Island schools.

     (b) The department shall develop specific methods of targeted intervention or identify

appropriate existing methods for school districts that have a dropout rate greater than fifteen

percent (15%) as determined by the department of elementary and secondary education. These

interventions methods may include:

     (1) Early intervention for students who fail Algebra I or any ninth grade math class and

have insufficient credits to be promoted;

     (2) Alternative programs designed to reengage dropouts including dual enrollment

courses at the community college level;

     (3) Increased availability of advanced placement courses;

     (4) Offering full course fee waivers for students eligible for free and reduced lunches,

when enrolled in dual credit courses;

     (5) Flexible programs for older students who are currently not enrolled;

     (6) Comprehensive supplemental education programs for middle school students who are

below grade level in reading and math;

     (7) Teacher advisories and other supports that are designed to specifically address the

needs of youth most at risk of dropping out of school;

     (8) Strategies that are specifically designed to improve high school graduation rate of

teens at highest risk for dropping out, including youth in the foster care system, pregnant and

parenting youth, English as a second language learners, and teens with special education needs;


     (9) Communicating with parents and students about the availability of local afterschool

programs and the academic enrichment and other activities the programs offer.

     (c) The department shall also gather the following data to ensure that all programs are

research-based and data-driven and use such data for continuous program improvement:

     (1) The total number of high school suspensions related to truancy;

     (2) Total number of students enrolled in alternative programs;

     (3) Total number of students who have been reenrolled in programs with flexible

schedules or community college programs;

     (4) Total number of freshmen who have personal literacy plans (PLPs);

     (5) Total number of students who have failed Algebra I or ninth grade math;

     (6) Total number of students who are repeating the ninth grade;

     (7) Total number of students receiving remedial programming in the ninth grade; and

     (8) The percentage of children in the care of DCYF who do not graduate from high


     (d) In school districts involved in progressive support intervention the department of

elementary and secondary education shall prepare and submit each year a written report that


     (1) The outcomes of the dropout prevention strategies to date, at the school district level;


     (2) How the school district dropout prevention strategies and activities will be modified,

based on the data.


     16-67.1-3. Defining the age and protocol for a student to leave school. (a) Children

who have completed sixteen (16) years of life and who have not yet attained eighteen (18) years

of age may not withdraw from school before graduation unless:

     (1) The student, the student's parent(s)/guardian and an administrator agree to the


     (2) At the exit interview, the student and the student's parent(s)/guardian provide written

acknowledgement of the withdrawal that meets the requirements of subsection (D);

     (3) The school principal provides written consent for the student to withdraw from

school; and/or

     (4) The withdrawal is due to:

     (A) Documented financial hardship and the need of the individual to be employed to

support the individual's family or a dependent;

     (B) Documented illness;

     (C) By order of a court that has jurisdiction over the student; and

     (D) Accompanied by a written acknowledgement of a withdrawal under subsection (b)(2)

which must include a statement that the student and the student's parent(s)/guardian understand

that withdrawal from school is likely to reduce the student's future earnings and increase the

student's likelihood of being unemployed in the future;

     (b) If a child of the age described in (a) is habitually absent from school and the school is

unable to contact the parent(s)/guardian. the school may withdraw the child from enrollment

provided that its attempts to contact the parent(s)/guardian by telephone, regular and registered

mail, and home visit are documented. If a child who has been withdrawn from enrollment under

this subsection returns to school, or if the school mistakenly withdraws the child from enrollment,

the child shall promptly be re-enrolled.


     16-67.1-4. Rhode Island dropout prevention "double-up for college" program. (a)

The commissioner of the Rhode Island department of elementary and secondary education and

the commissioner of the Rhode Island board of governors for higher education may develop a

plan for a high school "fast track to college" program that offers qualified individuals an

opportunity to earn a high school diploma while earning credits for a certificate program or an

associates degree.

     (b) To be eligible to earn a high school diploma under this section, an individual must be


     (1) Nineteen (19) years of age and not currently enrolled in a school; or

     (2) Seventeen (17) years of age to nineteen (19) years of age and have consent from the

high school that the individual is currently enrolled in.

     (c) To complete the requirements for a high school diploma under this section, the

individual must meet the graduation requirements of his or her local educational authority.

     (d) The department, in collaboration with the board of governors for higher education,

shall report to the Rhode Island general assembly on the feasibility of establishing this program

and the potential cost of a pilot program by January 1, 2008.


     SECTION 2. Section 16-19-1 of the General Laws in Chapter 16-19 entitled

"Compulsory Attendance" is hereby amended to read as follows:


     16-19-1. Attendance required. -- (a) Every child who has completed or will have

completed six (6) years of life on or before September 1 of any school year and has not completed

sixteen (16) years of life shall regularly attend some public day school during all the days and

hours that the public schools are in session in the city or town in which the child resides. Every

person having under his or her control a child as described in this section shall cause the child to

attend school as required by this section, and for every neglect of this duty the person having

control of the child shall be fined not exceeding fifty dollars ($50.00) for each day or part of a day

that the child fails to attend school, and if the total of these days is more than thirty (30) school

days during any school year, then the person shall, upon conviction, be imprisoned not exceeding

six (6) months or shall be fined not more than five hundred dollars ($500), or both; provided, that

if the person so charged shall prove that the child has attended for the required period of time a

private day school approved by the commissioner of elementary and secondary education

pursuant to section 16-60-6(10), or a course of at-home instruction approved by the school

committee of the town where the child resides, or that the physical or mental condition of the

child was such as to render his or her attendance at school inexpedient or impracticable, or that

the child was excluded from school by virtue of some general law or regulation, then attendance

shall not be obligatory nor shall the penalty be incurred.

      (b) Every child enrolled in school who completes or has completed sixteen (16) years of

life and who has not yet attained eighteen (18) years of age shall regularly attend school during

all the days and hours that the public schools are in session in the city or town in which the child

resides unless the person having control of the child provides written permission to the school

department of the city or town to terminate the child's enrollment. withdraws the child from

enrollment in accordance with section 16-67.1-3. Provided, however, that nothing in this

subsection or in subsection (a) of this section shall prohibit or limit cities or towns from enacting

programs of early intervention and/or mediation in an effort to address the problems of students

who are habitually late or absent from school.

      (c) Nothing in this section shall be deemed to limit or otherwise interfere with the rights

of teachers and other school employees to collectively bargain pursuant to chapters 9.3 and 9.4 of

title 28 or to allow any school committee to abrogate any agreement reached by collective



     SECTION 3. This act shall take effect on September 1, 2007.



LC01053/SUB A