Leaders Target Dropouts

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During the 2002-2003 year for grades 7 through 12, close to 6,000 students, or two percent of 229,791 students, dropped out of school.

In a continued effort to lower those numbers, the Mississippi Department of Education held a one-day regional training session in Meridian Wednesday.

"It's real important that everyone in the system buys into the fact that there is a dropout concern," said Peggy Peterson, director of Compulsory School Attendance.

The Office of Compulsory School Attendance and the Office of Safe and Orderly Schools conducted training sessions to assist school district personnel in developing their own effective plans of action.

School administrators and counselors from the surrounding area took part.

"If we can increase the way students feel at school and that they feel safe, then maybe we can reduce the dropout rate," said Chelley Barnes, a school safety specialist with the Mississippi Department of Education. "We just want to encourage them to continue doing what they are doing."

Peterson said every school district in the state is to develop a dropout plan to be submitted to the state Department of Education by Dec. 15, 2004.