Washington State House Democrats


Governor signs Kagi bill expanding opportunity for dropouts

OLYMPIA — High school dropouts will soon have new opportunities to re-engage with schooling and career preparation thanks to legislation spearheaded by Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-Lake Forest Park) and signed into law today by Gov. Chris Gregoire. The bill passed the House and Senate with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, capping Kagi’s two-year dropout re-engagement effort.

“The success of this bill comes straight from the 32nd Legislative District and would not have happened without the support and vision of Shoreline Community College,” Kagi said. “Students and administrators shared amazing stories of young adults literally turning their lives around by embracing education. This bill sets the stage for similar progress across the state of Washington.”

Many elements of Kagi’s legislation are similar to a successful program in Shoreline that has existed since the mid-1990s but is threatened due to a need for specific legislative authorization. Students and administrators came to Olympia earlier this session to testify in support of the bill in front of the House Education Committee.

Under Kagi’s legislation, a statutory framework will be created through agreements developed by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). School districts will have the option, rather than the requirement, to offer re-engagement programs.

Programs will be open to anyone age 16-21 who has not accumulated credits at a rate high enough to receive a diploma by age 21. Academic instruction in the program can include GED preparation, academic skills training, and college and work-readiness preparation. If the program provider is a community or technical college, students may have the opportunity to enroll in college courses without having to pay tuition.

Program providers can be educational service districts, community and technical colleges, other public entities or community-based organizations.

Recent OSPI statistics show a 21.4 percent four-year dropout rate among students who entered high school in 2004 and were expected to graduate in 2008.

Kagi originally introduced HB 1418 during the 2009 session, where it passed the House but stalled in the Senate. She adjusted the proposal for the 2010 session, leading to its winning votes of 96-2 in the House and 46-0 in the Senate. The bill will take effect in 90 days.