Hill-Evans announces legislation to prevent dropouts

Part of legislative package focusing on student care in addition to security infrastructure

HARRISBURG, May 8 – State Rep. Carol Hill-Evans, D-York, announced her bill today, “Removing Barriers to Graduation,” that would help schools partner with non-profits to support students, offer mental health services and prevent dropouts.


Hill-Evans’ bill is part of the House Democrats’ legislative package, “Beyond Safe Schools,” which would invest in identifying students in need of care and ensuring school district resources and state funding support would be available to stop problems before they start, doing more than just providing more locked doors and security cameras, and recognizing that students are more likely to see a security guard in their school than a nurse or counselor.


“I am particularly concerned that schools don’t have enough qualified professionals to detect poor mental health in students and how to help them,” Hill-Evans said.


Hill-Evans said that mental health conditions are associated with higher rates of dropout among students. Low educational achievement correlates to low wages and limited life opportunities. Furthermore, dropping out of school itself has been associated with higher rates of depression.


“We need to safeguard our children’s mental health to help them reach their full intellectual, emotional and social potential,” Hill-Evans said. “My proposal would ensure that schools have the behavioral health resources necessary for all their students.”


Hill-Evans said the “Beyond Safe Schools” legislative package will save lives and save money, delivering better graduation rates, reducing suspensions and expulsions, and resulting in more successful outcomes for students, building a better future for everyone.


The bills expand upon last term’s bipartisan $60 million investment in safety infrastructure that was mostly spent on physical items like security guards, metal detectors and surveillance cameras, but also gave students a new way to report dangerous behavior to the district and the state.


Hill-Evans’ bill will be formally introduced in the near future.


The Beyond Safe Schools: Safe and Supportive Schools package is part of House Democrats’ Plan4PA, focused on putting people first by growing good jobs, providing health care access, creating quality schools, and providing training for jobs in a fair economy. Additional information about the plan is available at www.plan4pa.com.


Additional information about the Beyond Safe Schools package is available at www.pahouse.com/BeyondSafeSchools.