Billings School Board raises age students can attend school to 20

BILLINGS, Mont. - In a 5-3 vote, Billings School Board Trustees voted to change the upper age of enrollment from 19 to 20 years old. 

The policy change allows students to attend school if they turn 20 before Sept. 10 of the year to be enrolled. This vote bypassed the other two readings of the policy change and made the change effective immediately.

Jennifer Hoffman, Scott McCulloch, Russ Hall, Brian Yates and Mike Leo voted in favor of the policy change. Janna Hafer, Zack Terakedis and Chair Greta Besch Moen voted against. Trustee Tawnya Ludwig was absent from the meeting.

This vote came after a public outcry when a Billings high school student with Down Syndrome, Emily Pennington, was at risk of aging out before finishing her senior year. Pennington's parents spoke at the board meeting:

"Clear back in October we asked if we could be heard," Mr. Pennington said. "The state made some changes, nothing initially, the state's made some changes, 'no they have not' we had to prove it... we had to go and do all kinds of leg work, my wife, I should say, my wife did leg work."

The policy change means Emily will be able to come back for her senior year at West High School.

Some things with the policy change still need to be figured out, including funding.

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