Special Education
2:17 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

Senate Bill Proposes "Alternative Diploma" for Special Needs Students

A bill creating an alternative diploma for special needs students is one vote away from becoming law.

Senate Bill 43 would apply different core standards to qualified students who would then earn the alternative diploma. Currently, special needs students in Kentucky receive only a certificate when they graduate.

The bill’s sponsor, Senator Dennis Parrett, says he’s only trying to fix what he views as a problem.

“Senate Bill 43 is fairly simple," he says. "In my mind it rights a wrong. And that wrong is that special education kids with alternative assessment in Kentucky, when they graduate high school currently receive a certificate. They do not receive a diploma."

Supporters of the bill say it's needed to help students achieve their dreams as young adults.

“And I had a young man who said to me, I may never own a Jiffy Lube. But if I had a diploma, I could get training and I could work at the Jiffy Lube," says state Representative Addia Wuchner. "And that’s really what we’re talking about, allowing them to also have their future beyond high school."

An amendment to the bill would allow it to take effect immediately with the 2012 graduating class. And Parrett says he plans future legislation that would allow for retroactive diplomas for graduates.

The bill has sailed through the Senate and passed a House committee this week. And based on overwhelming passage so far, it appears it’s certain to become law soon.