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Why I Have an Issue With Mississippi's Diploma Standards for Students With Disabilities

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We recently moved to Mississippi. There are a lot of things we love about this place, but occasionally we find something that rubs us the wrong way. One of those is the issue of diplomas for kids with disabilities.

Here in Mississippi, if your child is in the resource room (no matter their disorder or diagnosis) they will not be receiving a diploma upon graduation. I have a problem with this.

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This is, to put it bluntly, just wrong. This is my son’s last year in middle school unless he gets held back. We just have a few short years of high school left. The way things are currently looking, my son will never leave the resource room for the rest of his school career. This means that even if he changes his ways and does the work necessary, he will not be getting a diploma at the end of high school.

There are some kids with disabilities who won’t need a diploma, their lives will be spent at home or group care. They will never be able to live on their own. And as hard and as sad as that is, I understand these kids not getting diplomas.

However, there are plenty of children in the school systems who just need a smaller environment to succeed. For a child with severe ADHD, he can do the work, but needs an environment that is free from distractions in order to succeed. They need a little help, but are capable of doing the work with the right accommodations. Yet these kids can’t have a diploma upon graduation here in Mississippi.

Mississippi isn’t the only state to do this. While we were living in Washington state, they were issuing post dated diplomas to all the kids who should have received a diploma but didn’t before the law was changed there.

Currently our son is choosing not to do the work necessary for a diploma or anything else. Unless things change drastically he will not be looking at a diploma no matter what the state allows. But there are plenty of other kids out there that deserve a diploma, so I will use my voice for them.

Photo credit:RomoloTavani/Getty Images

Originally published: November 24, 2019
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