Schwarzenegger Signs Law Allowing Seniors With Disabilities To Skip
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
February 2, 2006
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA--Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed legislation Monday that allows about 25,000 California high school seniors with disabilities to graduate this year without having to pass the otherwise mandatory California High School Exit Exam.
The law requires school districts to grant high school diplomas to students with disabilities who have met all other graduation criteria, if they have failed the English and math test at least twice since 10th grade.
The measure only applies to students scheduled to graduate this year.
"Today we have given many high school students and their families peace of mind as they prepare for graduation," Schwarzenegger said in a statement.
Last August, the non-profit legal firm Disability Rights Advocates and the California Department of Education settled a 2002 class action lawsuit in which they claimed that the exam unfairly discriminates against students with disabilities. Under that settlement, the Department had agreed to exempt seniors with disabilities scheduled to graduate in the spring of 2006 from taking the exam. Special education students would have had to attempt the exit exam at least three times and had taken remediation classes if offered by their school district.
But in October the governor vetoed a measure that would have approved the settlement, because it would have granted the exception for the next two years.
After October's veto, some school districts complained that the veto left them in the position of having to violate federal special education law, which requires reasonable accommodations for testing.
"It was urgent for students in the class of 2006 with disabilities to know whether they would receive their diplomas as they began their final semester," Roger Heller, staff attorney at Disability Rights Advocates and counsel for the plaintiffs, said in a DRA statement this week.
"Now, the state has responded in a way that ensures thousands of students with disabilities in the Class of 2006 are not unfairly punished."
"Governor Signs Bill Exempting Students with Disabilities in the Class of 2006 from CA High School Exit Exam" (Disability Rights Advocates)