Back in June I wrote about new graduation requirements for New York State students with disabilities. The new requirements were to act as a “safety net” to allow more students with disabilities to graduate with a diploma. I also said that in a future post I would “discuss the implications of this new regulation and the Pros and Cons for students with disabilities. ” Well, the future is here.

Under the “new” requirements, which have since been amended, if a child with a disability failed certain required exams, the superintendent would have been required to review the student’s academic record to see if there was justification to allow the student to graduate. However, critics pointed out that that under the original policy, parents would not have been able to appeal the decision of a superintendent if he approved graduation. First of all, there could be a potential conflict between what is best for a superintendent (higher graduation rates) and what is best for the student (additional high school education). But more importantly, parents might not want their children to graduate early since, by law, the state must education them until the age of 21 or graduation, whichever is sooner. I have worked with many students who needed that extra time to help develop their independent living skill or vocational training which was provided by their district. For this reason, the Board of Regents amended the policy to require parents to review the student’s academic record before a superintendent can decide whether a student should graduate. Furthermore, district will have to tell parents that they have the option to keep their child in school until the age of 21.

Approximately 280 New York students with disabilities were able to graduate in June under the newly relaxed graduation requirements. It will be interesting to see whether, as a result of being told about this option, more parents opt to keep their children in school until they reach the age of 21. More on this in a future post!

If you have questions, feel free to contact me.