Students who failed high school exit exam can now petition for diplomas

District could pass cost of petition process on to applicants

sbowman@beaufortgazette.comJune 18, 2014 

  • How to petition

    Petitions for diplomas can be applied for and submitted one of three ways, according to the Beaufort County School District:

Former students who failed the state's exit exam but met all other requirements to graduate from high school can now petition the Beaufort County School District to receive their diplomas.

The school district implemented a petition process Wednesday for any student since 1990 who failed to receive a diploma solely because he or she did not pass the exit exam.

However, costs associated with the process could be passed along to some petitioners, according to superintendent Jeff Moss.

A new state law eliminates the exit exam as a requirement for graduation, meaning students who didn't graduate because they failed the exam can now qualify for diplomas.

Beaufort County student records predating 2001 are not computerized and are stored at an off-site facility. Petitioners who need such records to prove they have met credit requirements to receive a diploma will be charged for the expense of retrieving them, Moss said.

"It could become very expensive," Moss said, "not only time-consuming, but very expensive, depending on how many petitions we receive."

Chief instructional services officer Dereck Rhoads said the storage facility could charge the district a minimum of $10 per page of documents, and as much as $25 per page depending on the difficulty in finding them.

That cost to districts was unexpected when the state legislature passed the bill, Rhoads said, which is why it will be passed on to petitioners.

The district will not charge recipients to mail the diplomas to them. When Gov. Nikki Haley signed the bill eliminating the exit exam in April, it was the state's expectation that districts would cover the mailing costs, Rhoads said.

District officials have said hundreds of former students could qualify for diplomas.

"We would hope it wouldn't get into the thousands or anything like that in terms of cost," Rhoads said. "Hopefully it won't be exorbitant, and we will do what we can to keep costs down."

Former students can petition the district with an online application, by visiting the district office or by mailing the petition.

Applications must include a copy of the former student's birth certificate.

Each petition will be reviewed by district officials to determine if the student met all credit requirements and is eligible for a diploma, Moss said. Students who graduated between 1990 and 2000 must have 20 credits, and those who graduated between 2001 and 2014 must have completed 24 credits, according to Moss.

Former students have until Dec. 31, 2015, to file requests for diplomas with their local school boards, according to the law.

"Our responsibility includes looking at the transcript and ensuring they met the credit requirements to now receive their diploma," Rhoads said during Tuesday's school board meeting. "Our challenge will just be getting access to the documents and the legwork involved."

Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.

Graduating ClassCredits to GraduateUnit Requirements
1990-200020 creditsEnglish/language arts4.0
Mathematics3.0
Natural science2.0
US History and Constitution1.0
Economics0.5
US Government0.5
Other Social Studies1.0
Electives8.0
2001-201424 creditsEnglish/language arts4.0
Mathematics4.0
Science3.0
US History and Constitution1.0
Economics0.5
US Government0.5
Other Social Studies1.0
Physical Education or Junior ROTC1.0
Computer Science (including keyboarding)1.0
Foreign language or Career and Technology Education1.0
Electives7.0

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