School dropout rates up in Guilford, Forsyth counties

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The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction released its annual report on school crime, discipline and dropouts Thursday.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools and Guilford County Schools had increases in the number of dropouts from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015.

According to the report, the number of reportable acts or student crimes went from 166 in 2013-2014 to 188 the next year.

"The majority of those are non-violent offenses, drug and alcohol offenses," said Theo Helm, chief of staff for WSFC Schools.

Dropouts in the school district went up from 370 to 483 within the same time period.

It’s the first increase in the school district’s number of dropouts in eight years, according to Helm.

Short-term suspensions also went up at WSFC schools from 2013-2014 to 2014-2015.

There were 8,763 short-term suspensions in 2013-2014 compared to 9,811 the following school year.

Guilford County schools also saw an uptick in dropouts, according to the report.

In the 2014-2015 school year, 529 students dropped out of Guilford County Schools, according to the report.

The school district had 467 drop outs the year before.

"Every single student that drops out, it's disappointing to us,” said Melanie McCarthy, supervisor of dropout prevention for GCS.

McCarthy says there's a dropout team at every Guilford County high school made up of social workers, teachers and staff.

"They're on the telephone,” she said.  “They're at the front door. They're doing whatever they need to do to establish a relationship with the student."

The school district also has a "Twilight" or night school and middle colleges to give students that may have jobs or life issues more flexibility.

"We really try hard to intervene,” McCarthy said. “Help them remove those barriers and get them back into school."

The dropout rate for Davidson County schools decreased by approximately 6 percent within the last two school years.

But the school system’s number of long-term suspensions went up from 13 in 2013-2014 to 23 the following year.

Student crimes at Davidson County schools also went up from 75 in 2013-2014 to 89 in 2014-2015, according to the report.

Randolph County schools also saw a slight uptick in its dropout rate.