Local News Politics

by Brenna Angel, Kentucky Public Radio

A Kentucky lawmaker is trying to change the way the school system recognizes achievements of special needs students.

Special education programs identify possible therapies and establish individual instructional goals for students. But when many of those students finish high school, they don’t graduate with a diploma, but a certificate of completion.

“But if you choose that non-academic route, your child when they graduate high school, they do not get a diploma. They get a certificate,” says Democratic Senator Dennis Parrett of Elizabethtown.

“If your child is a senior at Bryan Station High School, and they completed this curriculum that was set out before them, then I believe that they deserve a diploma. It can say alternative diploma. I’m fine with that, but they deserve a diploma. That’s all this is about.”

Parrett has pre-filed legislation to for the upcoming General Assembly that would allow students with disabilities to earn a diploma.

The issue hits close to home for Parrett, whose youngest daughter has a mild mental disability.

The Kentucky Department of Education generally does not take a position on pending legislation, but Parrett says his proposal has the support of the superintendent for Hardin County Public Schools.