There’s great news if you don’t want your child to graduate this year. I recently wrote a blog post on what parents can do if their School District is pushing to graduate their child but the parents don’t think their child is ready to graduate. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) issued new guidance on the “Parental Right to Decline Examination Waivers.” Due to COVID-19, on April 7, 2020 the NYSED issued a memorandum cancelling the June 2020 Regents Examinations and subsequently cancelled those scheduled to be held in August. New York State is one of the few states that still require these “exit examinations” in order to earn diplomas, credentials, and endorsements.

Students who during the June 2020 examination period would take one or more Regents Examinations are exempted from the requirements of passing these two examinations in order to be issued a diploma, assuming they meet certain eligibility requirements. The new guidance now gives parents the option to decline the exemption from assessment requirements for graduation. In plain english, that means that parents can say “no thank you” to the exemption and say they want their children to be required to pass these assessments before they graduate. If the parent “explicitly declines the exemption of a Regents Examination, a NYSED Approved Alternative examination, a Pathway examination or a waiver of unfinished Career Development and Occupational Studies (CDOS) Commencement Credential requirements, applied to his or her child, a diploma will not be conferred on such student at this time.” That means the student will be able to return to their school in September (or July if they are in a 12-month program).

At least 10 calendar days before a student would receive a high school diploma, schools must notify parents of all students who have been exempted from a graduation assessment requirement and are scheduled to graduate in June or August 2020. The notification must inform parents of their right to refuse these exemptions to the graduation requirements “if they do not wish their child to earn a diploma in June or August 2020.” The parent’s decision to decline the exemption is “irrevocable.” So parents should understand that declining the exemptions will mean that in the future, their child will need to pass any remaining assessments required for graduation including those previously eligible for exemption.

For added clarification, if your child’s IEP already stated that she was going to return to school next year anyway, the school can only award her a diploma IF the parents state in writing that they want her to receive a diploma.

If you have questions about this or other issues, please contact me.