Gradua⁠t⁠⁠i⁠ons on ⁠t⁠he r⁠i⁠se ⁠i⁠n DJJ school d⁠i⁠s⁠t⁠r⁠i⁠c⁠t⁠  

June 10, 2024

Bryce Fiedler

CALN Founding Member & CALN Board of Directors Secretary

Person Holding White Scroll

While the high school dropout rate in regular South Carolina schools has seen only a small decline over the last decade, inching down from 2.6% in 2012-13 to 2.4% in 2021-22, a new data point shows promise for an education system that is often overlooked. 

According to a new report from the SC Daily Gazette, the number of students who graduated from the state Department of Juvenile Justice school district last year is more than double what it was less than a decade ago. DJJ Superintendent Floyd Lyles told reporter Skylar Laird that the district had 111 graduates in 2023, compared to 48 in 2015.  

Throughout Lyles’ eight-year service with the district, more than 1,000 DJJ students have earned their diplomas. 

“That’s 1,000 families changed forever. It gives them the opportunity to change the trajectory of their life,” he told the Gazette.  

While state law requires DJJ to provide an education for the youth in its custody, the article explains, students do not have to earn a degree. But among department officials, there is a desire to increase graduation rates so that more teens can find careers and reduce their chances of being incarcerated as adults.  

Students face unique challenges in this environment, but more every year are refusing to let those obstacles hold them back. Sean Schurer, who was expelled from his Upstate high school and sent to DJJ, has left its facilities after earning his diploma and completing an online esports and cybersecurity program. He now wants to learn welding at Tri-County Technical College.