Superintendent's Memo #297-10

State seal, Commonwealth of Virginia

COMMONWEALTH of VIRGINIA
Department of Education

December 10, 2010

TO: Division Superintendents

FROM: Patricia I. Wright, Superintendent of Public Instruction

SUBJECT: Seeking Public Comment: Standards of Accreditation Waiver Provisions Related to Graduation Requirements

In response to House Bill 1199, passed by the 2010 General Assembly, the Board of Education is seeking public comment on its Regulations Establishing Standards of Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia (Standards of Accreditation) as the regulations relate to graduation requirements. House Bill 1199 says that in establishing course and credit requirements for a high school diploma, the Board shall:

"… Provide for the waiver of certain graduation requirements (i) upon the Board's initiative or (ii) at the request of a local school board. Such waivers shall be granted only for good cause and shall be considered on a case-by-case basis."

Currently, 8 VAC 20-131- 350 of the Standards of Accreditation provides that: "Waivers of some of the requirements of these regulations may be granted by the Board of Education based on submission of a request from the division superintendent and chairman of the local school board. The request shall include documentation of the need for the waiver. In no event shall waivers be granted to the requirements of Part III (8 VAC 20-131-30 et seq.) of these regulations"

The Board of Education proposes to add the following to 8 VAC 20-131-350: "except that the Board of Education may provide for the waiver of certain graduation requirements in 8 VAC 20-131-50 (i) upon the Board's initiative or (ii) at the request of a local school board on a case-by-case basis in accordance with guidelines established by the Board."

The Board of Education also proposes to add the following to its Guidance Document Governing Certain Provisions of the Regulations Establishing Standards for Accrediting Public Schools in Virginia related to the waiver provision:

"The Board of Education may waive certain graduation requirements in 8 VAC 20-131-50 by resolution. The resolution shall specify the requirement(s) being waived and, if the waiver is time-limited, when the waiver would expire.

Local school boards may seek a waiver of certain graduation requirements in 8 VAC 20-131-50 on a case-by-case basis by submitting a request to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, on behalf of the Board, which explains what requirement(s) are requested to be waived and the justification for each requirement(s) requested for waiver.

The Board of Education authorized 30 days of public comment on the matter at its November 18, 2010 meeting. The agenda item may be found at http://www.doe.virginia.gov/boe/meetings/2010/11_nov/agenda_items/item_b.pdf. The Board is expected to review the public comments and take final action on this item at its meeting on January 13, 2011.

Please submit your comments by e-mail, U.S. mail, or FAX by December 28, 2010. Send comments to Mrs. Anne D. Wescott, assistant superintendent for policy and communications, by e-mail at Anne.Wescott@doe.virginia.gov; by phone at (804) 225-2403; or by FAX at (804) 225-2524.

PIW/ADW/mfm