Graduation with a Regular Diploma -- Topic Brief
Archived Information

March 1999

Department's Long-standing Policy on Graduation Published in NPRM.
In the October 22, 1997 NPRM (at §300.122(a)(3), the Department included its long-standing policy -- that a student's right to FAPE ends when the student graduates from high school with a regular high school diploma; but students who receive any document other than a regular diploma are still entitled to FAPE if they are in the eligible age range. Note 1 following proposed §300.122 added that --

  1. graduation is considered to be a change of placement, requiring prior written notice to be given to the parents (and to the student, if appropriate); and
  2. since graduation changes a student's eligibility status under Part B, a reevaluation would be required under §300.534(c).

Public comments indicated the need to re-consider the evaluation requirement.
Although a range of comments was received on the graduation policy, a number of commenters persuasively stated that because graduation with a regular high school diploma and aging out are a natural ending to a student's eligibility under Part B, it would be inappropriate, and burdensome, to require that the student be reevaluated.

Graduation policy retained; prior notice and evaluation addressed.
The final regulations retain the policy position that a student's right to FAPE is terminated upon graduation with a regular high school diploma, but is not terminated by any other kind of graduation certificate or diploma. The regulations also specify that --

  • WRITTEN PRIOR NOTICE, in accordance §300.503, is required, because graduation from high school with a regular diploma constitutes a change in placement (see §300.122(a)(3)). School districts will be expected to provide the notice "a reasonable time" before proposing to graduate a student -- in order to ensure that there is sufficient time for the parents and student to plan for, or challenge, the pending graduation. (See analysis of comments related to §300.122(a)(3)); and
  • EVALUATION IS NOT REQUIRED BEFORE GRADUATION (i.e., the provision requiring that a student be evaluated before determining that he or she is no longer eligible under Part B does not apply if the termination of eligibility is due to graduation with a regular diploma or aging-out under state law). (See §300.534(c)(2).)
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* On October 22, 1997, a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) was published in the Federal Register to amend the regulations under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The purposes of the NPRM were to implement changes made by the IDEA Amendments of 1997, and make other changes that facilitate the implementation of Part B. The changes made since the NPRM are based mainly on public comments received.

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Last Modified: 07/19/2007