How Many Students with Disabilities Dropped Out? This Many.

Last week the Department of Public Instruction-Exceptional Children Programs presented to the Education Oversight Committee a report detailing the current state of educational service models for students with disabilities.  During this presentation it was revealed that 4 LEA's in 2006-2007 did not graduate a single student with a disability.  The report also disclosed that fewer than 42% of students with disabilities did not attain a Level III score or better on the End-of-Course tests. 

Late today we received the full, eighteen page report from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction Exceptional Children Programs.   How many students with disabilities dropped out last year? 4,050. How many students graduated with a diploma? 5,179. How many students received a certificate? 1,011.  How do these dropout numbers compare to previous reports? In 2003-2004 there were 3,876 dropouts, and in 2004-2005 there were 3,799.  These numbers are based on youth with IEP's.

Who were those four LEA's that did not graduate a single student with a disability, and how many students were affected?  Now we know.  The 4 LEAs had a total drop out number of 56 students.  Scotland County had all 38 of its students with disabilities drop out.  That is 100%.  Scotland County was joined by Chatham County (4), Graham County (6) and Franklin County (8).  What was not mentioned in the presentation, but was included in the report was that five Charter schools also had a 100% drop out rate for students with disabilities.  These Charter schools are Central Park (1), Chatham Charter (1), Crossroads Charter High (2), Sandhills Theatre Arts Renaissance (1), and Woods Charter (1).

Three LEA's and eight Charter schools did manage to have 100% of students with disabilities exit with either a diploma or a certificate in 2006-2007.  The LEAs are Thomasville City Schools (9), Tyrrell County Schools (8), and Camden Schools (3).  The Charter schools are CG Woodson School of Challenge (1), East Wake Academy (2), Gray Stone Day (1), Hawbridge School (6), Kennedy Charter (5), Pace Academy (12), Raleigh Charter High (12), and River Mill Academy (3).

These sixty two children attending these four LEA's and Charter schools are just tip of the iceberg.  There are over 4,000 students with disabilities who did not get a cap and gown last year, who did not hear pomp and circumstance, and who did not receive a diploma or a certificate from their high school.  Clearly, we need to continue to challenge our schools to do more for students with disabilities, who deserve and should demand equitable educational opportunity. 


  1. Jerimee

    March 19, 2008 at 9:00 am

    Thank you Julia for this post.

    What is an LEA? A school system?

    What is an IEP? An Instruction Exceptional Children Programs?

    The problem is that 4000 students didn’t graduate, probably because of some form of unconscious discrimination. What is the solution?

  2. Julia Leggett

    March 19, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Hi Jerimee,
    The first two questions are easy the third is very hard.
    An LEA is a Local Education Agency. An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan.

    We need to invest more in the educational service models for students with disabilities in our state and nation. What that will look like is not clear. We need more individualized support for these students. We need better transition planning so that as our graduation rates increase, these students will be successful in employment choices or higher education choices. It is a very complicated situation.

  3. gregflynn

    March 20, 2008 at 9:37 pm

    There are 115 LEAs, one for each county and then some. There used to be over 200. A lot of authority has been devolved to the LEAs and each one exercises discretion in a different way. With respect to Exceptional Children each LEA has a different approach. Some are fully integrated in the general student population, some are grouped within schools in specially equipped classrooms, some grouped within schools in standard classrooms or trailers and some grouped in remote buildings totally separate from other students.

    There is a procedure for placing a child in a private school with state reimbursement but it is very complex. Handbook On Parent’s Rights

    Because of the challenges of variations in funding between counties, variations in educational approaches to exceptional children between LEAs and variations the ability and availability of parents and guardians to assist children achievement is not evenly distributed across the state.

  4. Pete Rubinas

    March 23, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Thank you very much for this post, Julia.

    Is the 18 page report you mention available to the public yet? If so, can you point me in the right direction to obtaining a copy? I could not find it on the EC section of the DPI website.

    Thanks again.

  5. Julia Leggett

    March 23, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Hi Pete,
    The report was presented to the Education Oversight Committee so it is available to the public. That said I received my copy via email. I have not been able to locate the report on either the DPI website or the General Assembly website. I have no problem sending you an email with a copy of the report and a spread sheet on the drop out numbers per LEA. Please contact me at jleggett@arcnc.org.

  6. M.O'Neil

    July 22, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    We are considering moving to the Raleigh area from FL. I have 10yr old twins that currently have IEP’s and are in private school here (the state pays for it here by request). I know they will have to go back to public in NC but am having a tough time finding an area with schools that they can actually thrive in. I am being told to stay away from several counties but not told to go to any. Any advice?

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