Close to 90 teenagers who dropped out of the Lafayette Parish Public School System are now enrolled in a new program aimed at helping them earn a diploma.  Lafayette Parish School Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper announced the creation of the program several weeks ago, and now dozens of former students will be working within the new program to help them earn the credits they need for a high school diploma.

The school system will be partnering with the No Dropouts company.  Their program, "Will Graduate", matches students with mentors, online coaches and resources to help them complete high school-level courses online.

The program officially was launched yesterday in Lafayette Parish, but more than a dozen school districts in Louisiana are also participating in the program.

Superintendent Cooper says,

Students don't often drop out because of academic struggles alone, but rather because circumstances make school a lower priority in their lives. Often they have children they need to support, sometimes they're helping care for brothers or sisters, sometimes they are sick and have fallen behind. Whatever the reason, the message that we're trying to send to these young men and women is that we still believe in them. We want to give them another shot at success, and this program offers the flexibility and support they'll need to take full advantage of that second chance.

Looking at their statistics, Cooper says that Lafayette Parish, in the span of six years, has cut the number of young people who have dropped out of school in half, but he says that school officials will not stop until they can help each student who has left the system.

Cooper says he wants to make sure that any student who has dropped out of school has a shot to get back to learning. He says,

We’re getting better and better at keeping kids in school, but we don’t want to leave anyone behind. We’re going on the offensive — we want to find every student who has dropped out in recent years and give them a chance to get back on the path to a diploma.