Gov. Steve Beshear signed a bill on Monday that will benefit students with disabilities by allowing them to earn an alternative high school diploma.

“We know how important it is that every student receives an education, and how important it is to high school students that they be rewarded with a diploma for their hard work when they successfully complete their studies,” Beshear said. “This new legislation recognizes that students with disabilities have the same desire to earn a high school diploma as their peers do. This makes that possible for them.”

Previously, such students could earn only a certificate of attainment if they are considered ineligible for statewide assessments.

Senate Bill 43, which passed unanimously in the House and Senate, allows for an alternative high school diploma for students with disabilities whose individualized education program indicates the student cannot participate in the regular statewide assessments. The Kentucky Board of Education will develop regulations outlining the requirements for the alternative high school diplomas.

Sen. Dennis Parrett, D-Elizabethtown, the bill’s sponsor and parent to a student who will benefit from the bill, joined Beshear, school officials and students for the signing held at Central Hardin High School in Cecilia.

“I am proud of the fact that is my first bill to become law,” Parrett said. “But I am particularly honored that this bill will allow our special needs students throughout the state to receive a formal high school diploma when they walk across the stage on graduation day, as opposed to a Certificate of Attainment.”

“We have been supportive of Senate Bill 43 since Sen. Parrett introduced it.  All students who work hard to satisfy the requirements of a course of study deserve a diploma,” said Hardin County Schools Superintendent Nannette Johnston.  “A diploma is the way we traditionally recognizes completion of a secondary level of education.  It awards achievement and signifies the beginning of a new chapter in life.  A diploma leads to other degrees, certifications and vocations.  If a special needs student performs the work that has been set out before them in their course of study in a satisfactory manner, then that student deserves a diploma just like any other student.”