Parents give plan to replace diplomas for disabled students an 'F'

WOODBURY - Thousands of high school students with disabilities across New York will no longer receive diplomas upon graduation under a new plan by state education officials. Members of the state's Board of Regents say the word "diploma" implies the completion of high school academic requirements that are beyond the capabilities of some severely disabled students. Currently, many disabled students graduate with an "individualized education program," or IEP, diploma. Board of Regents member Roger Tilles says the IEP diploma is not accepted by many employers, the Army and even some colleges. "This way, we're giving them a credential that has their skills outlined, that their employer can see that they can do anything from auto mechanic to full college to filing," Tilles says. Parents of disabled students, however, worry that the new credential system may negatively impact their children's futures. Some say they're worried about future employers understanding the credential system. Additionally, some parents argue that the idea of receiving a diploma helps students with disabilities understand that they're graduating high school like everyone else. The new "credentials" will be handed out starting in the 2013-14 school year.

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