special needs students: high school diploma completion vs a regular diploma

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Be aware if your special needs child is on a high school diploma completion versus a regular high school diploma.

Hi guys! It’s your school law guru, Steve Rossi. Today’s topic will be about high school certificates of completion versus a high school diploma.


Because of the economy, many private schools, both religious and non-religious, have been trying to obtain money through alternative sources. In Florida, one of the sources they are seeking funding from is the McKay scholarship. The problem is that public schools have been in the business for many years and have had to  deal with 504 and IEP students and clearly deal with these types of students more frequently than the typical private school.  In an attempt to try to obtain additional money to stay open, a lot of private schools have indicated that they provide education to special needs students so they can obtain the McKay scholarship funds for the school. 


Once the student has been admitted, the school can offer the parent of the student  a certificate of completion instead of a high school diploma for their child. A certificate of completion is normally offered to the parents who do not believe or do not wish for their child to continue their studies at any universities or colleges. Even if the parents have chosen to have their child obtain a certificate of completion, the student still needs to complete all the necessary work in order to graduate from high school. In addition, the student would have to complete a series of other prerequisites in order to complete and graduate high school. If the prerequisites are not completed, the student becomes at risk of not attaining their diploma and graduating from their high school.


 A major issue that has been seen lately is that students are being offered and issued certificates of completion instead of diplomas without the parents and students knowing. Parents should be made aware that the problem with acquiring a certificate of completion is that Florida Colleges do not typically admit students that have completion certificates. The bottom line is that if you are a parent with a child in highschool, be cautious and aware of the certificate or diploma that is being issued to your child.  


This article is not intended to be used as legal advice. Every individual situation is unique and in order to obtain concise and up to date information you should consult with a licensed Florida attorney to obtain his/her opinion on your specific case. 


 Feel free to contact the Law Offices of Steve Rossi P.A. and ask for Steve Rossi for a

free consultation if you received a letter from the DOE indicating you’re under investigation.