Yakima high school dropout rate inches up

YAKIMA - Yakima's high school dropout rate is on the rise. More than a quarter of students didn't get their diploma last year. KIMA learned what's being done to keep kids in school.

I met Ilario Campos at a worksite, building a house for Habitat for Humanity. Working alongside other youths. None of whom finished high school.

"2013 was supposed to be my year to graduate," said Ilario.

Battling personal issues, Ilario dropped out of Eisenhower in his junior year. Eventually landing at a sober living home. To pay rent, he needed a job. And, left no time for classes.

"I couldn't do both at the time. So, it was either school or work, and I had to pick work."

YouthBuild gave him a chance. Paying him to learn a trade. While working toward his GED.

Ilario's story isn't unique.

According to the state, 29% of students dropped out of high schools in the Yakima School District last year. That's up from 25% the year before.

"I'm saddened by that number," said Yakima School District Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Jack Irion.

He admits the problem is complicated. Reasons for dropping out vary.

"There is not any one that will meet the needs of every student."

But, the district has tried. At one point, offering evening classes for students who work. And, putting subjects online.

KIMA asked, "Some would say that whatever strategies the district is employing, are not working. Is that a fair assessment?"

"I would say that is true in some cases," said Dr. Irion.

Prompting the school district to constantly adapt. Placing kids in classes they can handle. Keeping tabs on students from an early age. And, retaining good counselors.

Because, for the district, one dropout is one too many.

The dropout rate doesn't include students who left school to get a GED instead.