New law helps to grant posthumous diplomas to late high school seniors
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It’s the day every high schooler counts down to: Graduation.
A new Virginia law will honor students who never get to finish their final year. The change will cut through the historic red tape for granting posthumous degrees.
Delegate Dawn Adams is now paving the way to ensure these seniors are honored with a diploma, giving their families a piece of closure.
“Frankly, anybody who has put in 12 years of school and then loses their life in the last year and is in good standing, it just makes sense,” Del. Adams said. “It will really impact the families in a healing and concrete way.”
12 On Your Side has continued to share the stories of families and friends of seniors who tragically passed away. Many of them have had to jump through hoops, some even protesting, just to have their loved ones recognized on graduation day.
Del. Adams says the new legislation was inspired by Daveon Elliot.
The Thomas Jefferson High School student was shot and killed in November of his senior year.
“I want justice. I want a diploma, and I want this to stop,” his mother, Miche Crumm, told NBC12 in March 2022.
Richmond Public Schools would not grant the grieving family of Daveon Elliot a posthumous diploma, citing a law that says students had to get a certain number of credits first.
“It was the absolute lowest thing they could do, least effort, it wasn’t going to hurt anybody but could really bring some healing and comfort to the family,” Del. Adams said.
Many people began to question why the law was in place to begin with.
“This has not just been a problem for him, it’s been a problem for years about this, and it should be changed,” Elliot’s childhood friend Miranda Ortiz said.
Del. Adams answered their call for action, writing up House Bill 1514, requiring the board of education to adjust those grad requirements for senior students who tragically don’t make it to graduation day.
“I really got no pushback on it at all, I mean, everybody felt like it was a common sense thing to do and most empathetic and easy,” Del. Adams said.
This law will go into effect on July 1.
The Board of Education will review every diploma on a case-by-case basis.
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