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Spokane Public Schools approves graduation waiver amid pandemic

UPDATED: Thu., April 29, 2021

The Spokane Public Schools district office at Main Avenue and Bernard Street is seen Sept. 24, 2019.   (JESSE TINSLEY)
The Spokane Public Schools district office at Main Avenue and Bernard Street is seen Sept. 24, 2019.  (JESSE TINSLEY)

Spokane Public Schools has joined other districts in approving emergency rules that would allow more flexibility for seniors to meet certain graduation requirements.

The action comes six weeks after the Washington State Board of Education adopted the rules, which are designed to help students whose progress has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wednesday’s waiver was passed without comment as part of the board’ s consent agenda.

After a district has tried all appropriate options to help a student meet credit and pathway graduation requirements, and determined that the student has shown preparation for success after high school, a school district may grant an individual student a waiver of some of those requirements.

Districts must work with students individually, give guidance on options to the student, consult with the family if possible, then decide with the student whether a waiver is right for that student.

This information includes what is being waived for the student, potential benefits and limitations that could result from receiving the waiver, including impacts on postsecondary plans and the option for the student to decline the waiver.

The student also must be provided with the opportunity to earn the credits needed to for graduation through continued enrollment beyond the planned graduation date.

According to language in the district’s resolution, it “will demonstrate a good faith effort … to help individual students meet credit-based and pathway graduation requirements through other options before considering the emergency waiver.”

Last spring, the Legislature had the State Board of Education create a temporary waiver program for seniors after school was suddenly brought online throughout Washington. The last-minute measure was passed the last day of session and expired in July .

In 2020, 9,400 waivers were issued – 2,700 were course credit waivers and 6,700 were for waivers of graduation pathways requirements. Some graduates received both waivers.

The new waiver picks up where the 2020 waiver left off, this time permanently giving the Washington State Board of Education authority to grant school districts emergency waivers for the next cohorts of graduating seniors.

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