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California Briefing / Statewide

Dropouts cost the state $1.1 billion, study finds

September 24, 2009|Seema Mehta

High school dropouts, who are more likely to commit crimes than their peers with diplomas, cost the state $1.1 billion annually in law enforcement and victim costs while they are still minors, according to a study that is being released today.

The California Dropout Research Project at UC Santa Barbara found that cutting the dropout rate in half would prevent 30,000 juvenile crimes and save $550 million every year.

Law enforcement officials said the findings highlight why the governor ought to sign legislation, SB 651, which would require the state Department of Education to produce an annual report that accurately calculates the number of students not finishing school. The report would also identify early signs that a student may be on the path to dropping out, such as truancy. Such indicators would allow schools to target at-risk students.

"Dropout prevention is crime prevention," said Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca, chairman of the board of the nonprofit Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a bipartisan effort by law enforcement officials and crime victims.

"Schools need better tools for identifying potential dropouts so they can target interventions at the kids who need them most."

-- Seema Mehta

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