Interpretation's Date: February 14, 2001
by superintendent David Stewart
Section: IV. Students

February 14, 2001

Dr. Michael McPherson
Assistant Superintendent
Mercer County Public Schools
1403 Honaker Avenue
Princeton, WV 24740

Dear Dr. McPherson:

I am in receipt of your request for a Superintendent's Interpretation dated January 25, 2001. Therein, you asked the following question:

"Is there an interpretation of State Policy that requires a 12th grade student to complete his/her full year of instruction in order to graduate, even though this student has fulfilled his/her graduation requirements by 1st semester of the senior year?

There is no state law or policy requiring a 12th grade student to complete a full year of instruction in order to graduate if he/she has successfully completed all graduation requirements at the end of the first semester of the senior year. West Virginia Department of Education Policy 2510, Assuring the Quality of Education: Regulation for Education Programs, section 8.2.5, states:

"A diploma is provided to every student who has completed the standard graduation requirements. A student with disabilities who has been determined by an Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team to be unable to meet state and county standard graduation requirements may receive a modified diploma."

Neither this nor any other policy or statute mandates that a student must stay in school through the completion of the twelfth grade year in order to receive a diploma. Further, I recognize that there may be valid reasons for a student who has completed all graduation requirements to request the issuance of a diploma prior to the end of the academic year, such as early entrance to college or to the military. It is, therefore, my considered opinion that if a student completes all graduation requirements by the end of the first semester of the senior year and then requests his/her diploma, that request should be granted.

If, however, a similarly situated student wishes to stop attending school after the

Dr. Michael McPherson
February 14, 2001
Page 2

completion of the fist semester but still receive his/her diploma in June at the regular commencement ceremony, that request should also be granted, However, the student should be reminded that by choosing not to attend school, he/she forfeits the right to participate in any extracurricular activities in accordance with West Virginia Department of Education Policy 2436.10.

In rendering this interpretation, I do not wish to minimize the value of school attendance. Students who have completed the requirements for graduation early should be encouraged to fill the second semester of their senior year with elective credits, which can only serve to enhance the overall educational experience. Further, it should be noted that pursuant to West Virginia Code 18-2E-8d, county boards of education are not prohibited from establishing high school graduation requirements which exceed the minimum high school gradation requirements established by the state board.

Hoping that I have been of service, I am



David Stewart
State Superintendent of Schools


c: Thomas Chaffins, Secondary Supervisor


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