Senate passes Wilson bill to allow diplomas for deceased students

Another bill prohibits solitary confinement of youths

  • Wednesday, February 19, 2020 4:33pm
  • News

Legislation passed Wednesday by the Senate would allow school districts to issue a diploma for a student who has earned 75 percent of the credits needed to graduate but dies after completing the 11th grade.

“This is a simple way to recognize a student’s academic achievement on behalf of a family that is suffering a tragic loss,” said Sen. Claire Wilson, D-Auburn, the bill’s sponsor. “This can help a family find some solace and closure if they lose a child tragically early.”

For a student who is fighting a terminal illness, Wilson added, the promise of diploma might provide comfort in the face of death or even an uplifting goal on which to focus during a time of little hope.

Senate Bill 6092 — named Evitan’s Law after a deceased student whose family suggested the legislation — requires school districts to award such diplomas if requested by the student’s family, provided the student had completed the 11th grade and was meeting requirements for graduation. The diploma may not be issued before the graduation date of the student’s class, and districts are not required to award the diploma at the same ceremony or event as other students.

“As a former school board director, I often had sad conversations with families who lost children prior to graduating and crossing that stage, which we know is a milestone for many young people and their families,” said Wilson, vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “When a young student suffers an untimely death, families are often left wondering how they can celebrate and remember their loved one.”

Having passed on a 47-1 vote, SB 6092 now goes to the House for consideration.

Also

Legislation passed Wednesday by the Senate would give childcare providers additional time to make remedial improvements that improve their quality of care.

Senate Bill 6483, sponsored by Wilson, would update the state’s Early Achievers rating requirements to allow certain childcare providers 12 months instead of 6 to complete remedial activities necessary to satisfy requirements. The goal of Early Achievers is to make sure childcare providers are effectively and adequately addressing children’s learning and development needs.

“We rate the providers because we want to make sure kids’ needs are met,” said Wilson, vice chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee. “The goal isn’t to penalize providers, it’s to improve the level of care. If a provider needs a little longer to meet requirements, that’s an investment worth making on behalf of our kids.”

The ratings apply to providers who receive subsidies through the state’s Early Childhood Education and Assistance program and Working Connections childcare program. Wilson’s bill would also allow providers to continue to receive the subsidies while completing their remedial improvements.

“Children are better served when we help providers correct substandard practices and improve care,” Wilson said. “Healthier, more capable children get off to a better start in life and invariably evolve into healthier, more capable adults — they live better lives, and our communities are stronger for it.”

Having passed on a 45-3 vote, SB 6483 now goes to the House for consideration.


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