Ex-South Pointe student says Palmetto program freed her

Lots of factors can contribute to a student's decision to drop out of school, educators say.

"A lot of it is family reasons," said Dwain Gibbs, a Palmetto Youth Connections case manager in Rock Hill. "They have to baby-sit their siblings."

Other issues also play a role, he said.

"For a lot of kids, dropping out is generational," he said. "Nobody in their family got their diploma or GED. There's no one enforcing the fact that they need an education, so it's accepted that they drop out of school and stay home."

Peer pressure is a factor, Gibbs said.

"Their peers dropped out or are planning to drop out," he said. "In order to fit in, they drop out, also."

Sometimes, images portrayed on television trigger young people to permanently ditch school, he said.

"A lot of these kids, their role models are rappers and sports players," Gibbs said. "Some youth feel as though 'I can be a rapper or hustle on the streets or play sports. I don't need an education.' They fall victim to that."

The dropout rate is on the decline in Rock Hill schools, district spokeswoman Elaine Baker said. This year's state report card reflects a dropout rate of 5.3 percent, or about 275 students. The 2006-2007 report card showed a 5.5 percent dropout rate.

Seventeen-year-old Jeni Mobley dropped out last spring.

"I had a problem going to school," said Mobley, a former South Pointe High School student. "I hated going to school."

But in April, she started classes at Palmetto Youth Connections. Then she took the test for her GED.

"I passed," she said. "I feel educated. I feel free. I get to explore the world."