Graduation Participation for Students with Disabilities Seeking a High School Diploma

Mortar and Degree

Howard County Public School System, Department of Special Education
April 19, 2018

A change in practice has been implemented for students with disabilities who are seeking a high school diploma. This is NOT applicable to students who are not diploma bound. This practice applies to students who will not earn a diploma within four years. These students will be given the option to select the graduation ceremony in which they participate.

The students will be able to decide which ceremony they participate in as follows:

1. Participate in the ceremony immediately following their completion of all graduation requirements. At that ceremony, they will earn a Maryland High School Diploma, or

2. Participate in the ceremony with the peer group with which they most closely identify, prior to satisfying all graduation requirements. At that ceremony, they will earn a certificate of attendance.

  • Students with disabilities who are seeking a high school diploma will select either option 1 or option 2 at the Annual Review in the third year of high school.
  • The IEP team may need to reconvene to reconsider the options when students do not remain on schedule with the documented plan for meeting the graduation requirements.
  • The students will participate in only one graduation ceremony.
  • If the students receives a Certificate of Attendance at the graduation ceremony, they will be mailed their Maryland High School Diploma upon completion of all the graduation requirements.
  • The process for students in Project SEARCH will be addressed on an individual basis.
  • There are students who may be impacted immediately by this change in practice. In these situations, the Department of Special Education team in collaboration with the School Counseling team will collaborate to provide individual school support with questions related to parent communication, team discussions, planning, etc.

Next Steps and Actions

  • The Department of Special Education intends to provide implementation guidelines to the High School Instructional Team Leaders in the Week of April 9, 2018. Mrs. Janice Yetter, DSE high school facilitator, will also be sending an email communication directly to special education team leaders.
  • The Department of Student Services will provide information to High School Guidance Counselors about implementation of this change in practice.
  • The Department of Special Education will develop and disseminate an FAQ document to be provided to families and school staff.

If you have questions, contact:

Terri Savage, Acting Executive Director of Special Education, 410-313-5350

Janice Yetter, DSE High School Facilitator, 410-313-5355