December 1, 2021

Superintendents focus on graduation rule changes

Metro Creative Graphics

Regents exams have been canceled. School districts are reconsidering other requirements for graduation. And some, but not all, have committed to a commencement ceremony — someday.

But like a spot quiz, not every district is prepared to answer every question.

Students who, during the June examination period would have taken one or more Regents examinations, will be exempted from passing the assessments in order to be issued a diploma, according to guidelines by the state.

To qualify for the exemption, students must meet one of these requirements:

• Enrolled in a class culminating in a Regents examination, and passing that class, in the 2019-20 academic year.

• Enrolled in a class culminating in a Regents examination and failing to earn credit by the end of the school year, but making up that class in summer school by August.

• Previously enrolled in the class leading to a Regents examination, has achieved course credit, but has not yet passed the Regents exam and intended to take it in June.

“This is fair to our seniors under unique circumstances,” said Todd Freeman, superintendent of the Cincinnatus Central School District. “We are looking at each senior individually to ensure they are meeting requirements set forth by” the Department of Education.

At small districts like McGraw Central School District, Superintendent Melinda McCool said all 34 of her seniors are in good standing and she expects all of them to graduate.

“If work does trail off, I anticipate our high school principal, Mark Dimorier, will be knocking on their door,” she said.

Both superintendents said their districts will have commencement ceremonies, though the details are still being worked out as to how and when.

“Every senior class has expectations and rights of passage and this class is being denied those experiences through no fault of their making,” Freeman said. “We will do what we can, when we can to celebrate as they have earned.”

However, he wasn’t sure that the ceremony would take place in June.

“The district is committed to recognize the efforts of our seniors,” McCool said. “If that ceremony is not allowed to occur in June as planned, we will reschedule and give every graduating senior a chance to walk across the stage to receive their diploma, accept their scholarships and awards and celebrate their accomplishment.”

McCool said she was open to having the celebration in July, August or as late as December when students may be back from college.

Cortland Enlarged City School District Superintendent Michael J. Hoose said that it was too early to determine if graduation will take place this year.

“We are hopeful that our seniors will have closure to this important milestone year,” he said.