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Law allows more disabled students to graduate with their class

ALBANY — A new law will allow students with disabilities who often take more than four years to graduate to participate in graduation ceremonies with their class even before they earn a diploma.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the bill into law Thursday.

Under the new law, students with disabilties who achieve specific goals under a “skills and achievement credential” or a “career develoment and occupational studies commencement credential” will have the right to participate in graduation ceremonies with the class they joined in 9th grade.

“Those students are equally deserving of the opportunity to participate in graduation ceremonies,” Cuomo stated in approving the bill.

After the students with disabilties graduate with their friends from their class, they would then continue to work in high school toward a diploma over the next year or more.

“Graduation ceremonies are a significant life moment that should be recognized and celebrated,” said Assemb. James Scoufis (D-Woodbury) when the bill passed his chamber. “Yet, often times, students with disabilities who took a longer or nontraditional educational path are excluded from their classmate’s commencement ceremony. These students have put in a lot of hard work and they deserve to participate in their graduation ceremony with friends and families cheering them on.”

The bill was also sponsored by Sen. William Larkin (R-Cornwall-on-Hudson).

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