Prior to our trip, we had his annual IEP (Individual Education Plan). At that time, we talked a bit about graduation. It was then that I learned that they don't really "graduate" at all, instead they get a, "Certificate of Attendance". Let me explain. I was under the impression that when he completed twelve years of school, he would graduate. When he completed the 8th grade, he graduated with the class and got his diploma. At the IEP, they informed me that he would not be getting a diploma. I got that impression after reading the high school manual regarding the requirements for graduation which included the special education classes and the IEP. I talked to the Director of Special Education after the IEP regarding the diploma. She wasn't entirely clear herself and after checking with a few sources, she called me back to explain the rules.
Apparently, if a special needs student takes "for credit" classes and complete the required number of credits, they will get a high school diploma. If however, a special needs student completes their IEP but does not take "credit" classes, they earn a Certificate of Attendance. (They still participate in the official high school graduation ceremonies, complete with cap and gown.) It wasn't a big deal however I never really thought about it that much. The reason it was a surprise was because in all of Dear Son's eighteen years of school and twelve IEPs, no one had ever mentioned that he would not get a diploma. In addition, he received a diploma at his eighth grade graduation. That being said, the Director of Special Education and I had a good conversation around this topic; she was surprised that it was never mentioned in any IEPs. They did some checking and apparently, not many parents knew either. The bottom line was that they will be informing parents in the future. She asked me at what age they should tell the parents. I said they should inform them right from the start, at the early IEPs. I think it's important to know what to expect and to be honest with people. I was fine with the Certificate of Attendance but it just wasn't what I expected.
Now then, on to the party. Since we couldn't attend the graduation, they were nice enough to present his diploma and throw a party for Dear Son at school! Here is Dear Son and his classmates, getting ready for the ceremony.
I thought this was a sweet picture of his classmate and Dear Son.
Of course, what's a party without a special pinata for the graduate!
And finally, bingo!