By Bill Short
The Millington School Board approved a required policy modification on first reading this week that would offer an occupational diploma to Special Education students.
Board members took the action Monday night during their regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Don Holsinger and seconded by Larry Jackson. The motion was passed by six affirmative votes, with Louise Kennon absent.
The policy modification is scheduled for final reading at the board’s Feb. 1 meeting.
Under the current policy, before graduation, every student enrolled at Millington Central High School must achieve the specified 22 units of credit, take the required end-of-course exams and have satisfactory records of attendance and conduct.
Students with disabilities may be awarded a Special Education diploma at the end of their fourth year of high school if they:
(1) have not met the requirements for a high school diploma;
(2) have satisfactorily completed an Individualized Education Program; and
(3) have satisfactory records of attendance and conduct.
Students who obtain the Special Education diploma may continue to work toward the high school diploma through the end of the school year in which they become 21 years old.
If approved on final reading, the policy modification would increase that to age 22. It would also require all MCHS students to take a series of three examinations, each administered at the eighth, 10th and 11th grades.
Special Education students who do not meet the requirements for a high school diploma could be awarded an occupational diploma if they:
(1) have satisfactorily completed their IEP;
(2) maintained satisfactory records of attendance and conduct;
(3) completed the occupational diploma Skills, Knowledge and Experience Mastery Assessment;
(4) completed at least four years of high school; and
(5) have two years of paid or non-paid work experience.
The decision to attain an occupational diploma would be made at the conclusion of the student’s 10th-grade year, or two academic years prior to the expected graduation date.
Students who have received an occupational diploma would continue to make progress toward a high school diploma until the end of the school year in which they become 22 years old.
Jill Church, supervisor of Special Education and Student Services for Millington Municipal Schools, said all public school districts in Tennessee are now required to offer the occupational diploma.
She noted that students pursuing it would take Workplace English and Workplace Math. And the “SKEMA rubric” would help them master the skills they need to become employed.
In response to a question by Jackson, Church acknowledged that the school district could not “force anyone” to pursue an occupational diploma.