Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune Credit: Gil Ford PHotography

The Senate advanced a bill Wednesday changing the required compulsory school age from 17 to 18 years old.

The bill exempts students who graduate high school early and those who are enrolled in a high school equivalency program.

Despite recent attempts by members of the House to also require mandatory kindergarten, which is not currently required in the state, that provision did not survive.

Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune, expressed concern over whether House Bill 567 could tie up Child Protection Services in the case of a 17-year-old truant.

“That would be my concern, that a 17 and a half year old would wind up in youth court and the parent would wind up in youth court,” Hill said. “CPS (Child Protection Services) is already spread very thin.”

Sen. Gray Tollison, Education Committee chairman, said he was unsure whether CPS could be involved, but said the bill does not address that issue.

“I think it would depend on the particular circumstances of the case,” he said. “The bill only raises the age of students from 17 to 18 that would be subject to the compulsory attendance law with exceptions for early graduation rate, et cetera.”

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Kate Royals is a Jackson native and returned to Mississippi Today as the lead education reporter after serving in the same capacity from 2016 to 2018. Prior to that, she was a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger covering education and state government. She won awards for her investigative work, including stories about the state’s campaign finance laws and prison system. She was a news producer at MassLive in Springfield, Mass., after graduating from Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communications with a master’s degree in communications.