Delaware Governor John Carney’s office was packed at 1:30pm today when parents, students, school employees, and advocates came to watch him sign HS1 for House Bill #287, the diploma bill.
State Rep. Kim Williams and Senator Nicole Poore thanked everyone for all their hard work on the bill. Both were close to crying with joy as they explained how much this bill will mean to this special class of exceptional students. Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting thanked everyone for their contributions to the bill. State Board of Education Executive Director Donna Johnson and DSEA Legislative Liason Kristin Dwyer talked about how they approached Williams and Poore about the bill. Woodbridge Special Education Director and Special Education Strategic Plan Advisory Group Chair Michele Marinucci said she has waited twenty years for this bill to become law.
But the best part was listening to the students who will benefit from this bill. Hearing the joy in their hearts as they thanked the room for their chance to get a diploma made all the battles with this bill worth it. One of Carney’s aides said there hasn’t been this many people in his office since the budget bill passed last July! Even Carney was very moved about the response to his signing the bill. He even joked that he wants the ability of the Spec Ed Strategic Plan’s Advisory Committee to get along to come to Legislative Hall!
I’ve been to a few bill signings in my day but this was easily the best! Good things do happen in education. I was happy to fight for this bill and report on it as much as I did. No students will work harder than these awesome kids and they deserve it! Today was a great example of the a wrong being fixed for the benefit of all- students, schools, and businesses. Today, I was proud to be a Delawarean and even prouder to see this bill become law.
The bill will allow students with the most extreme disabilities to earn a diploma with modified standards in lieu of a certificate of attendance. This became a huge issue when some of these students would fill out job applications and couldn’t check the box about having a diploma. Many businesses in Delaware lost the chance to hire these hard workers because of that. But more important, it was missed opportunities for these students. Truly a blessed day at Legislative Hall!