OSEP letter cautions on using alternative graduation requirements for students with disabilities

The U.S. Department of Education has advised Louisiana’s Superintendent of Education John White that a new Louisiana law allowing students with disabilities to follow a different route to a high school diploma than what’s required of other students may violate the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as well as other federal requirements.

In a letter to White dated July 2, they also noted that the law could put Louisiana’s public school aid in jeopardy, depending on how it is implemented. Their concern is that it permits IEP teams to set different academic standards and develop alternative ways for students with disabilities to achieve graduation and their diplomas – even though the students have failed to pass state assessments and meet the same requirements that students without disabilities must meet for promotion, graduation and diplomas.

Unlike Louisiana, Maine remains committed to helping all of Maine students – with and without disabilities – achieve the State’s rigorous academic standards and will continue to provide the training and technical assistance needed to meet this priority.

If you have questions about Maine’s graduation requirements for students with disabilities please contact the Department’s Director of Special Services, Jan Breton at janice.breton@maine.gov  or 624-6676.