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(11.11) If my child meets the graduation requirements and receives a regular diploma, does special education eligibility end?

(11.11) If my child meets the graduation requirements and receives a regular diploma, does special education eligibility end?

Yes. Graduation with a regular high school diploma will make your child ineligible for further special education services. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56026.1(a); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.102(a)(3)(i).]

Graduation with a regular diploma is a “change of placement” for special education students. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.102(a)(3)(iii); Cal. Ed. Code Secs. 56500.5.]  A “change of placement” is a legally significant event for a special education student and requires that the district send a prior written notice to students and parent (a reasonable amount of time before this change in placement happens).  [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.503(a)(1); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56500.4(a).] The prior written notice must include: a description of what the district intends to do, an explanation of the reasons for the action, a description of any alternatives the district considered and why those were rejected, a description of the reports, tests, and procedures on which the action is based, and information on students’ and parents’ rights and sources of advocacy assistance. [34 C.F.R. Secs. 300.102(a)(3)(iii) & 300.503(b); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56500.4(b).] Without this required notice, the district’s proposal to graduate your child may be inappropriate. [Union School District v. Smith, 15 F.3d 1519 (9th Cir. 1994).] However, no new evaluation of your child is required before awarding her a regular high school diploma. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.305(e)(2); Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56381(i)(1).]

Before a special education student graduates with a diploma or reaches the maximum special education eligibility age of 22, the school district must provide the student with a summary of his academic achievement and functional performance including recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting his postsecondary education goals.  [Cal. Ed. Code Secs. 56026(c)(4) & 56381(i)(2).]

If you disagree with the IEP team’s determination that your child will graduate, you may file for due process.