Answer: In general, the process for dropping out should be the same for this student as for other students. However, prior to informing the student’s father, it would be critical to discuss potential safety issues with her. For example, does the student fear abuse or retaliation of some kind if her father finds out she is dropping out of school?
Beyond the mechanics of how she might drop out is an investigation into why she wants to drop out and what supports can be put in place. For example, she may intend to enroll in an alternative program. Some programs require the student officially drop out of their previous school before they can enter. If that is the case, it is important to make sure the student has a process available to her as an unaccompanied youth under the McKinney-Vento Act to drop out without a parent’s signature. If she is not on track to graduate from her current school and wants to disenroll so she can enter a different program that better suits her needs, the school should facilitate her enrollment in the alternative program.
On the other hand, would any additional services or supports keep her in her current school and help her be successful? She may be close to graduation and be able to get across the finish line with some additional support. Since the McKinney-Vento Act requires LEAs to remove barriers to retention in school, the district needs to provide supports that could prevent her from dropping out. 42 USC §11432(g)(1)(I). For example, accelerated credit accrual, flexibility, extra academic support, mental health support, or other resources could help the student remain in school and be successful.